When I was quite young and closer to the ground I can remember riding my hobby horse stick all over the place. It was red and white with a fun yarn mane and I would pretend I was a cowgirl dashing across the range. I had the hat and freckles. Mother would never get me the pop-guns and holster though. That was for boys. But then at four I also would jump off the small divider wall in the living room with an open umbrella yelling “I can fly” after watching Mary Poppins, so maybe she had a valid point.
Then one fine day playing in the front yard of our house I caught a glimpse of what was to become a heralding of my destiny… The Picture Pony. A neighbor kid came running down the street. “The picture pony is here! The picture pony is here!!” We ran back up. It was a beautiful sight, western saddle, shiny bridle and all the stuff my childhood dreams were made of.
The grownup brought out her son and placed him on the pony. Decked out in full regalia, cowboy hat, matching chaps, holsters and boots he was swinging the toy guns on his fingers trying his best to look like a gunslinger out of the black and white westerns we all watched. I lingered, entranced, as the photographer set up to take the kid’s picture. I wanted so badly to be up on that pony.
My feet carried me back down the street as if I had wings on my heels. I turned the corner up our path and threw open the front door, my heart racing and as big as the California sky. “Mom! Can I have a ride on the picture pony?” She looked up from the dishes and said “Not right now.” “But…” She smiled one of those smiles carried over from the late 1950s, said “No.” and that was that.
I tore back up the street, hungry for whatever I could get, watching as others took a turn, willing the pony to be mine and vowing that one day, one day I too would ride off into the sunset, head held high, on a picture perfect pony of my own…