Monday, September 5, 2011

My friend Jonathon

"When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things."
1 Corinthians 13:11

Maybe he was a dog, maybe he was a bunny. Maybe he wasn’t meant to have the shape of an existing animal at all, but was the unique design of someone, somewhere, who had the desire to create. In all my years, I have never encountered another like him- his white polka dotted suit with the frilled collar, his stubby feet, his squishy stomach- they are all unique to him. Someone, before I was born, named him Jonathon, and that’s how I would know him for all of my childhood.

To this day I do not know his origin- he was there before my first memories. He pops up in assorted home videos- the one’s of my sister and I singing our prayers before bed, mostly. He was never my security - I had a pooh doll for that, and a peach colored blanket, both tattered by the years of being dragged through a child’s relentless movements, slowly ripping from the very core. No, Jonathon was my bedtime favorite, though he spent more time under my bed then on it (for as children, we are far less concerned with our sleeping companions whereabouts in the morning than our adult counterparts). He never complained about his position, though, never requested better or more preferential treatment.

But he also never smiled. His seamstress mother had not seen it fit to equip him with a mouth that slanted upwards. As a matter of fact, if I recall properly, she did not see it fit to create a mouth for him at all. Just a nose (pink, I think) and a pair of eyes (black, perhaps) nestled into a white fury head. His appearance was far less important to me in adolescence then his physical presence.

He lives in the attic now, next to the first grade drawings and the third grade gifted and talented projects that my parents stored for memories sake. He is waiting for something, I suppose, though as I have never been a stuffed toy, I don’t know what. In my life, he has been replaced by other animals- teddy bears, and best friends, an even, on occasion, the cuddles of a guy. My bedtime needs have changed from childhood.

Many of my friends talk about giving their own childhood favorites to their own little one’s in the future, as if this continuity will bring some sort of finality to their time with their stuffed pals. I’m not sure that I can make that same promise. If I am to have children of my own, I suspect I will give them many things; the important ones, like my heart, my money, all the security that I can, and some that I cannot. I anticipate that I will lose my own life to theirs, learning the intricacies of being responsible for someone other than myself, and I shudder at the thought of this responsibility, weighing it against my internal desire to beat my biological clock. But I think that even in this time, Jonathon will remain mine and mine alone. Because if he loses an ear, or those button eyes, I will be the one that understands that hurt that comes with it. Because I am the one who remembers hiding with him in the closest when my sisters were being mean. And I am the one who remembers watching lightening storms outside my window with him, late into the night when the thunder was too loud. And I’m the one who threw fits when he wasn’t around. He was all mine.

Yes, he is a only a toy, I’ve grown to know that. His physical presence is no longer needed. But even today, his place in my heart will never be lost.

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