Notes from a Napkin
Note: I wrote this on several napkins that I left at the bar where I was writing.
It all started with a book. Doesn't it always, for a writer?
I don't remember who gave it to me. I had two copies at one point, then gave and lost one to an ex. I like to think that he read it, but I don't know if he ever did. As a matter of fact, I lent the other copy to another ex, who I'm sure never read it. Maybe the measure of a lover's worthiness ought to be measured by whether they can be bothered to read this book.
Like this book, I tend to give away too much of myself, too soon, to pretty much everyone. I tell myself I've learned, but then I find myself sharing this book and showing my heart again and again. I guess this is the curse of a Pisces? It is our season, after all.
But how much can I really blame on the stars, when I leave pieces of myself strewn about the world for anyone to find? When the one thing I know how to do is put my thoughts on paper and give the words away?
You see, I have a habit.
I leave words everywhere I go. I leave them in bars and hostels and cafés and parks and anywhere else I might happen to be, but I especially like to leave them on airplanes.
You know the paper bag that's always in the pocket on the back of the seat, in case of an in-flight emergency? At some point, when I was a little girl, I started writing messages on them. I used to love flying and felt sad for people who got sick during what for me was such a thrilling experience. The messages started off simply: a smiley face and childishly encouraging phrases like, "You'll be okay!" or "The plane will land soon!" I guess I liked the idea of communicating with a stranger through time and space, and the possibility that I could comfort them.
My habit developed over time, and eventually I started leaving longer notes. Feeling like the paper bag was a bit of a twisted medium (Hey, stranger, here's a cheerful note when you just want to be ill in peace!), I wrote them on napkins, pages ripped from my journal, postcards, airline advertisements, and whatever else I had. I wrote in messy caps, painstaking cursive, and chaotic something-in-between. I left quotations, song lyrics, and funny observations of the people on my flight.
As I got older, I started to bring books that I could finish on the plane and leave there for someone else to find. I'd usually select a well-worn favorite, since I knew the words by heart and wanted to make sure the book I left was good. I don't know how many books I've left on planes, tucked behind the airline menu and safety instructions, so that the flight attendants wouldn't find them and toss them out before the next flight.
The most important book I've left so far is the one I abandoned on the plane from Los Angeles to Copenhagen. It was the same book I've given to exes, the one I cite as my favorite, the one that saved my life at one point. I left an inscription inside the hardcover volume and hid it safely in the pocket for the next writer to find. I hope the words make their way to someone who needs them.