Friday, March 26, 2004

Happy Birthday--a day early--to my son Jonathan

Tomorrow, my son Jonathan will celebrate his 24th birthday. I cannot believe that he will be 24 years old! It seems like just yesterday that I was pregnant with him, two weeks overdue and miserable...but extremely excited about being a mom for the first time. The day that he was born was one of the most joyful in our lives. He has been a wonderful son. He's funny, smart, charming and adorable. This will be his first birthday as a married man! Although we don't get to be with him to celebrate it, we will be traveling to Texas shortly to spend some time with him and his wife and the rest of my family living there.

In honor of Jonny's birthday, I thought I'd post one of his writings, which is on the writing page of my website. This is something Jonathan wrote for a college creative writing class, but I think it shows that he's a terrific writer in his own right.

Mr. Ed, by Jonathan Swanson

When I was young I watched Mr. Ed on Nick at Nite. I could probably still sing you the theme song ("A horse is a horse of course of course*"). The fact that my mom read The Chronicles of Narnia to me every night made me very susceptible to a show about a talking horse. When you are hearing about horses with human torsos, the thought of a plain talking horse is not so farfetched. What I had trouble with was Mr. Ed's living quarters. Ed's stable was always a little too clean, a little too urban. The life of Mr. Ed was nothing like the life of my cousin's horses. Even as a child, I knew that the city and the farm did not go together. Always.

I grew up in Rockford, Illinois. While it may be no Metropolis, it is dense enough to make it the second biggest city in Illinois. Our small yard may have restricted the size of our father-son football field, but we never lacked for close proximity to a Taco Bell. It was pretty standard city life. My cousin lived on the farm and he had the rickety red barns, we had the cable television. It was a fair trade as far as I was concerned. Yeah, life in the city was not much like life on the farm. That is, of course, before the people with the horse moved into the neighborhood. Odd.

They seemed like decent folk. My little sister ran around the neighborhood with their little kids, and they seemed to have a good time. I just could not get over the whole horse thing. I still cannot get over the fact that they had a horse. They really had a horse. Their yard was not big enough for a Great Dane, yet somehow they reasoned that Secretariat could live back there. Ok, so they did not have him there all the time, just on weekends, but the weekend is still a big chunk of the week. Think about it. Two out of seven days is just two days away from being fifty-seven percent of the week. A horse lived at the house across the street almost fifty-seven percent of the time. Crazy.

I referred earlier to Secretariat. This horse was definitely no Secretariat. This horse was the kind of horse that horses on their way to the glue factory would be thinking to themselves, "Man, I'm glad I'm not that guy!" The family would ride him around on the street at a snail's pace. It was almost as if he was one of those ponies at a carnival or fair or something, just without the rope that forces him to walk a circle. Sad.

It turns out the old horse was not as mild-mannered as we all thought. Turns out he may have wanted more than just to walk around really slowly and perform those natural functions that horses tend to perform. One day the old horse jumped the fence and ran through the night like the black stallion, mane flowing beautifully in the wind, eyes shining with the light of the stars, never to return again. Just kidding.

I could say that seeing that horse live in our neighborhood every weekend taught me a great truth. I could say that I learned something, about how urbanization has stripped our country of our beautiful prairies, or about how animals deserve to run free in their natural environment. Actually, the biggest lesson I learned was to watch where you are walking, when you walk around the same places a horse walks. Obvious.--Jonathan Swanson

No Friday Five this I create my own...

Here's my own "Friday Five"...answer in my comments section, or in your own blog and leave your URL here:

1) What's your favorite thing to do when it's raining out?--Snuggle up in a comfortable chair with a really good book!

2) How often do you go to the library?--About once every two weeks; sometimes more.

3) When was the last time you sent an actual letter or card via snail mail, and what was the occasion?--A few weeks ago, I sent a card to encourage my sister-in-law whose father died recently. I'm late sending my son a birthday card! :(

4) What is your favorite radio station?--WQFL and WGSL, of course!

5) What is your favorite kind of hot tea?--Probably a three-way tie between Earl Grey, Constant Comment and Irish Breakfast!

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