When I was 25, I met Steve. There was an instant mutual attraction, and we started going out together on the weekends. This gradually developed into a steady relationship, although we had practically nothing in common other than that everpresent magnetic pull.
When I was 26 Steve was offered a caretaking position on an ex-cattle ranch that had been bought by developers and subdivided into residential lots. He asked me to move in with him, and I happily agreed. This caused much uproar in both our families. Steve was six years younger than me and his father actually thought he was still a virgin until I, the Loose-Moral’d Strumpet, corrupted him.
My family predictably (but temporarily) condemned and excommunicated me for abandoning them and taking my income with me. This saddened me at the time, because I truly wished them all the best, but I had come to understand that you could hand my mother a million dollars and within a few months she’d be broke again and back in debt. Her “martyred victim” self-image absolutely defined her, and she sabotaged every opportunity for improving her lot that was ever offered to her. I could not see pouring the rest of my life into that gaping black hole of self-defeating futility.
Steve’s father continued to squawk pretty much nonstop about his heretofore unsoiled son Living In Sin, so when I was 27 and Steve was 21 we decided that maybe it was time to tie the knot.
I don’t want to give the impression that I married unwillingly. On the contrary, I thought we were wonderful together, a study in complementary opposites. And oh, the splendid dreams and plans we wove for our life together! It was going to be GREAT!
So we married, there at home beneath the cottonwood trees, and then there was a huge reception in town that seemingly half of Anza showed up for.
But I’m getting ahead of my story…let’s back up a step.
After I met Steve and before I moved in with him, I met a woman who asked me if I wanted to collaborate with her on a childrens’ book. I don’t even recall how I met her or how the subject came up, but somehow we ended up working on this project together. It was an ABC book similar to Animalia, with a tongue-twister for each letter of the alphabet. The machine shop I’d been working in for the past four years was closing down, and I was eager to put that behind me and start my career as a Professional Artist.
The book was never finished…something came up in the woman’s home situation and she had to take care of it, and we fell out of touch. It probably wouldn’t have been published anyway; I think it was a bit TOO Animalia. The idea had Already Been Done, and better than we could have done it.
But pulling out those old illustrations a few days ago gave me a smile or two, and a few of them are worth sharing. For some reason they’re not scanning well at all, but you can get the gist, anyway. I particularly like “Jolly Jaguars Jog Jade Jungle, Jumping Jittery Jerboas,”
and “Five Fearless Ferrets Falling Fast!”
Some of the pictures contained little in-jokes, like the beetles referencing Raphael’s cherubs…
…but this one?
I got nothing. I can’t even remember which letter of the alphabet it’s supposed to be for.
With the book on permanent hiatus, I turned my creative efforts to other projects. For a while I was making a few bucks (actually a respectable number of bucks) painting portraits of other folks’ horses.
Those pics tomorrow!