120: He Kept It

His room was the one I fell in love with first when we bought this house. The sea blue walls and the cedar strip paneled ceiling triggered seashore sounds from a classic wooden boat. (Which is kind of strange since I’ve never owned a boat, and I live far, far away from either coast. Not to mention, I’m also a pale, shade-dweller always lathered in sunblock.) 

     The previous owner must have noticed it too, because the perfect madras quilt she had on her child’s bed, completed the boat cabin coziness. It was so strangely symbolic to me that soon after we settled into our new house, I purchased our own perfect madras quilt. His cozy, safe, and secure cabin was turning into a perfect, safe harbor.

I suppose last summer I began to accept that he didn’t see the room the way I did. Like many teen bedrooms it was always a mess. Clothes were everywhere, there were cords coming out of every socket, and a few hung posters had begun to warp my quaint cabin’s appeal. And add to that, the cigarettes hidden in drawers, the suspicious looking herb flakes, the lighters, and the empty bottles, my seaside mirage had eventually been crushed, scrambled, and sunk. Until one day after he left.

Cleaning out his room after he left for the military academy was grueling. With each opened drawer and behind every nook and cranny, I would hold my breath. Most times, I had a favorite, calming prayer running through my head.

But the day I cleaned the mess under his bed, the seagulls returned.

     At first glance, the job would entail cleaning out two big junk-drawers, some dirty clothes, and I could see one of the beautiful madras pillow shams shoved deep in the corner. I started making my way through the junk drawers; it took longer than expected, because all the sweet memories uncovered in his junk drawers slowed me down. He had kept his duct tape wallets, his shredded money from our DC trip, his old pencils I had engraved with his name, key chains from vacations, favorite Matchbox cars, old pictures, and many other happy things.

Then I pulled the pillow sham out from the trappings of the dust bunnies, and on top of the pillow, fell a note. This is the note that stopped me in my tracks; it was written by me. All it said was, “I love you” written in our code.

Had he kept that on purpose? Oh my goodness, I bet he did. He kept all those other little things in his junk drawers. Every note I’ve ever left for my boys ends with those 3 symbols. I think he kept it. Oh my goodness; he is still so sweet and sensitive.

I kept that little Post-It out in obvious places for a while after I found it. For a few months, it remained in his bathroom resting on the toothbrush rack. Then I moved it to the towel rack. Finally, it spent the last few months on the railing at the threshold of his bedroom.

How many times did he walk past that note while he was home for a week at Thanksgiving? He was home for over 2 weeks at Christmas. He could have crumbled it up and thrown it away dozens of times…but he didn’t .

He kept it. He kept it in his cozy boat cabin next to his perfect madras quilt.


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