Noteworthy

I like notes. Since there were no cell phones when I was a kid, Mom and Dad always wanted me to call them at work when I got home from school to let them know that I was fine. After that, I was on my own until they came home. In case I was out skating a little longer, or if I had gone to the store, I was always expected to leave a note for them.

“Mom. Went to store. R”

I’d leave that note on the doormat in the hall of our apartment, so that it’d be the first thing Mom saw when she got home.

We all did that. If my parents weren’t at home when I got in, before I could finish my “I’m hoooo-ooome” call, I’d see the note. If it was stuck to the hall mirror, I knew it was from Mom. Dad left his notes on the table under the mirror, or on the kitchen table.

An authentic Finnish note. Ink on paper. 1980.

I liked coming home and seeing the little notes that were written on the backs of envelopes, torn out newspaper clippings, old Lotto coupons, or just simple white sheets of paper.

Sometimes the notes stated the (fortunately) obvious – “There’s food in the fridge” – sometimes they offered me a solution to a problem I didn’t know existed: “There’s a twenty in my jacket pocket, go get something to eat”.

And in the summer, when I was home alone all day, there would be a little more detailed, sometimes long notes on the kitchen table, giving me instructions for the day: “Risto, first your usual morning stuff: Brush your teeth. Face. Go for a run. Call me afterwards. Dad.”

Of course, these days, that note would be a text message.

The notes I leave to people these days are different, but I still leave them. Mostly to Wife.

For our first non-date date – not a date, really – we went to see” A Night at the Roxbury”, a Will Farrell comedy that Wife had seen in Wales a few months earlier. Back in Sweden, she had called the local distributor to see when the movie would hit the theaters there. And once it did, she wanted her friends to see it. And I was welcome, too.

In one scene, the Butabi brothers throw all their pickup lines at their new girlfriends, including the one in which one of them checks the label of the girl’s blouse and says: “Just as I thought. Made in heav-en-ah.

A couple of months later, Wife forgot her cardigan at my place. When I returned it, there was a note on the label, saying, “made in heaven”. It took her weeks to notice it.

About nine years ago, when I made her a feel-good book. It was a little notebook that I had painted red, and inside, I had written every five pages or so, little notes about how great she was. Last Xmas, I gave her another notebook, with similar surprises: a comic strip taped on one page, a 50-krona bill on another. Just little things to cheer up during a boring meeting.

Last week, I was just walking down the escalator at the mall, listening to Springsteen’s River, when I suddenly got a flashback from high school. I stopped, opened the notebook I started carrying a few years ago when I decided that I wanted to be a writer, wrote down my random thoughts, and kept on walking.

The next day, as I was looking for those brilliant notes, I saw a strange shadow, like ink, on the flip side of the page. I thought it was strange, because two years ago, I went back to using a pencil, for reasons that I have since forgotten.

So, I turned back a page to check.

And there, on the right hand side, was the note. It was in Wife’s handwriting, and the ink was green. The note began with “Hey, darling” and ended with “love you.” It was a note she had written for me on our 5th wedding anniversary some time earlier.

On the left, there was Son’s drawing of Hector Barbarossa, of the Pirates of the Caribbean fame.

He, too, said, “I love you”.

Captain Hector Barbarossa.

How does that make you feel?