Jonathan MacInnis is one of my oldest friends on Prince Edward Island. We were in Ms. Hyson's grade six class together when my family first moved to this province.
He lived about a five minute walk away, so as years went on, I spent a lot of time hanging out with him and his family. He's got an older and younger sister, and they got used to me loitering around their house. He had a dozy beagle named Missy and, later, a siamese-type cat named Gideon. I once let myself into the MacInnis' back door to find Gideon up on the kitchen counter, licking a defrosting chicken.
Jon had a unique relationship with his parents; very different from the one my WASPy family had. Jon would playfully flip the bird to his Mom, Debbie, and call his father (Rod) "Lightning Rod" and "Hot Rod."
(Jono, in grade 11, playing guitar in his room)
Jon's room was always a fascinating place. He had filled it with homages to his favourite musicians, sporting equipment, and instruments (lovingly) littered the floor. He and I listened to music with different ears. It wasn't just for the entertainment value of it - we enjoyed listening to all the layers, and Jon always had a very keen ear. He says I can be credited with turning him on to the Beatles, which, I suppose, if I do nothing else in my life, that's enough.
He also agrees with me that John Mayer is a fantastic blues guitarist. I know that might not sound very interesting, but I like talking about John Mayer.
Jon was always a skilled musician, but he didn't take it for granted. He took seriously the responsibility of rehearsing. His main instrument is the saxophone, but he also plays guitar and bass, and who knows what else. Drums, too, I think! He didn't surprise anyone when he enrolled in UPEI's music program. We played together under Dr. Karem Simon in the UPEI Wind Symphony (until I quit, like the quitting quitter I am). Later, Jon continued with his musical education at Memorial, where he got his MA. Jon now teaches band at Montague Intermediate School, molding young minds. With fungus.
(Jon, right, at the Indian River Festival with the Jive Kings and Measha Brueggergosman)
For a short stint, Jon played sax with the Jive Kings, a great Charlottetown big band under the direction of Mike Ross. When I lived in England, their first CD, "Spoon For a Knife" was always in my discman and reminded me of fun nights at the Mack, dancing and listening to that great horn sound. In 2000, Jon won an East Coast Music Award for his work on "Spoon For a Knife."
Along with his dedication to honing his musical skills, he has dedicated himself to his faith as well. Jon is a Christian, and lives his life accordingly. He has a healthy understanding of how to live as a modern Christian. He never proselytises, but instead he leads by example. He also uses his musical skill to lead others in worship. When I decided/realized that I was no longer a Christian, he was one of my friends that I was the most concerned about telling, because, having been a Christian, I know how that can be reacted to. I really think it's a testament to Jon's faith that he was willing to talk it through with me, and never tries to "win me back," or any other nonsense. His long-time girlfriend, Jo, shares his dedication, and they're a great pair.
Jono is an active dude who likes mountain biking, and he used to play racquetball with my Dad, which is cool beyond belief. He enjoys playing... well, most things, as well as I can tell, and is ready to crack a joke and make fun of himself. At the same time, though, he's demonstrative with affection and is always ready to dole out hugs. Last month, on the day that Anna's father died, he was the first friend I saw in person, so when I told him what had happened while be both sat in the theatre seats at the Confederation Centre, he put his hand on my shoulder while I cried, and then gave me a big hug. Then we just sat together quietly. It was just what I needed, and I was really glad it was him.
Last winter, when I was sitting at home bored and unemployed, Jon invited me for the drive down to Halifax. He had won a musical bursary and was taking saxophone lessons from a professor there and wanted some company for the drive. We had so much fun listening to music and talking about what we heard. I am still amazed at what Jon hears in music. We listened to Beastie Boys and Eric Clapton and the Beatles and Johnny Cash and everything in between. He pointed out that Peter Galbriel's "Solsbury Hill" is in 7/4 time, which is amazing (honest!), and I had never picked up on it before. (I had sensed there was sometime unique about the song, but just assumed it was a bar-by-bar change of time signature, like in the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love.")
I feel like I've grown up with Jono, which is a nice feeling for me, a girl who moved around so much early in life. I look forward to seeing where life takes this remarkable man.