|Me (red and white striped shirt).|
And three of my cousins.
My head was learning stuff. Who knew?!
Okay, I know that comes as a surprise to many, but it's true.
Some lessons were fairly severe, but a few, and even some of the most life-changing were quite (for want of a better term) painless.
I was fifteen. And had been staying with my best friend and nearest neighbour at her parent's ranch, fifteen miles from my own.
It was a glorious week of riding, playing, getting into her father's hair.
Oh, yes, a glorious week.
It was time to go home. Her Dad needed the break.
It was a fairly easy trip when one was merely negotiating the fifteen miles of dirt roads between our ranches.
But my parents had moved, for the winter, to our town home in Milk River a further twenty miles away.
A trip of approximately an hour, if the road conditions were favourable. Which they often weren't.
Originally, my Dad had planned to pick me up when he came out to do a vet call.
His plans had changed.
And now, so had mine.
I would be riding with my best friend's uncle.
The scary one.
For an hour.
Just the two of us.
I suddenly didn't care if I ever saw my parents again. I wanted to stay with my friend.
Neither choice was given to me, however.
Amidst much hugging and goodbye-ing, I was pushed out the door and parked in the uncle's truck.
I curled into a little ball in my corner and tried to pretend I didn't exist.
We started out, the silence thick about us.
After a while, the uncle reached out and turned on the radio. A short time later, he turned it up.
Now, at least, we had music to fill the emptiness.
But I found myself getting more and more uncomfortable. My parents always claimed that visiting made the time go by faster. I definitely wanted that to happen.
Finally, I thought of a question about his ranching. I asked it.
He answered. Quite politely, I might add.
I asked another.
Again, he answered. With even more detail than the last.
This went on for some time. He turned the radio down. Then down again.
Then finally shut it off completely.
And it was then I realized that we were . . . visiting. And that he was funny. And not nearly as scary as when we got into the truck.
Huh. Who knew?
The trip turned out to be infinitely shorter than I had anticipated. In fact, we got so animated in our conversation that we were parked in my family's driveway before I even realized that we had reached the town.
And I learned that all you need to do to get a conversation going is to ask a question about whoever you're with. If you are genuinely interested, they like to talk about themselves.
I also learned that, when you are visiting, no one is as scary as they first appear.
Even someone else's uncle.