From about age twelve or so, I devoured adult novels--I do not mean x-rated, per se, but books written for and about grown ups, not the YA crowd like Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys, and the kid-and-horse books etc. I gravitated to love stories of course; indeed the bulk of those novels did have a love story as a sub-plot if not the primary one. And it was not long before my head was full of fairy tale dreams and very unrealistic expectations! I just knew there was a cowboy prince charming out there somewhere who would carry me off to his version of Ponderosa and we'd ride off together into the happily-ever-after sunset!
I think in talking about the equines, I may have mentioned taking off a year from high school after I had a painful ‘wreck’ with a wild mule we were training. It reared instead of jumping a ditch and then the bank started to cave in and I let go and kicked free. I landed in the bottom of the ditch on a pile of rocks, a solid hit on my tailbone from about ten feet up! It was extremely painful and although nothing was broken, I did pinch some nerves and had pain and numbness in my legs for awhile. Anyway, once I recovered, I worked full time for about ten months as a ‘bronco buster’ and trainer with a number of horses and mules. Since I was basically doing a man’s work and not socializing at all with other teens, my romantic interests turned elsewhere for the objects of my fickle fancy!
I would now call them the “young and restless” (nothing in common with the “soap” ofthe same name) as they were working class men between the ages of about 18 and 30, a few single but most of the “my wife’s married but I’m not” school of thought. They were all more than willing to flirt with a young, footloose and I guess not unattractive girl —like me. I know I was really very lucky they generally recognized me as “jail bait” and so flirting was all they did. At any rate, I went from crush to crush on several guys. I always gave them a nickname of some kind which I used in my diary/journal in an attempt to preserve secrecy but I am sure some were pretty transparent: Blondie and Ace,
At the time I did not have a camera so I did my best to capture the likenesses of some of them in sketched portraits. Looking at the results now I am almost surprised—they are not half bad! I laugh though when I read how serious I was about each situation and how silly I was! All were unsuitable, of course, and quite appalling to my parents… As I say, I was lucky! That went on for quite awhile, even after I returned to high school for the last two years as I was by then even farther out of step with my classmates and contemporaries than ever so none of them seemed attractive to me—nor I to them. In many ways the die was thus cast for the bulk of my life. I always related best to people quite a lot older or younger than I was...
These three portraits were done over several years and I think my skill in drawing did improve as I went along. However before I did the last one I had a camera so I could often work from a snapshot at least and that made it easier. Cheating? Well, (~shrug) I don't know. Probably more reliable than memory anyway!
I also wrote to a lot of penpals, both male and female. I had requests in the Junior Horsemen Column of Western Horseman magazine and later a couple of times in a magazine actually called Ranch Romances. Most of those fell by the wayside but one girl is still one of my lifelong BFFs and I correspond occasionally with another. The guys though vanished. I met a couple of them and recognized at once that Cowboy Prince Charming were-not-us! But it filled a gap in my life at the time and I suppose no harm done in the long run. Always in love with love I was though. And still am!