Nanette’s Surprise for Me Before She Left for Nairobi


Nanette spent the entire night before she left for Nairobi on February 7, preparing a surprise for me. I was working in Stockholm at the time and wouldn’t come back to my apartment to see it until February 25.

“I can’t wait for you to see my surprise for you,” she said.

“What is it? Tell me.”

“Nope. You just have to wait.”

Nanette is good at keeping surprises and secrets. I had to wait until I got back. I kept thinking about what she could’ve prepared. A photo album? It had to be non-perishable to last almost a month.

No matter how many times I asked her, she wouldn’t budge. A playful and endearing smile was all I got. I arrived at my apartment around midnight weary from traveling. Nanette’s suprise had slipped from my mind at that moment. I turned on the lights and saw various photos of us she had printed and carefully placed throughout my room. I picked up one on my nightstand. We are standing in front of the Boston Science Museum. I’m wearing a chambray shirt with jeans. She’s wearing a black tube top, a light blue dress, and black wedges. A disc-shaped multi-colored pendant hangs around her neck, and she holds onto her purple purse and one of her favorite wool jackets.

I saw she had written a note on the back of the photograph.

27) I love you because I know I can explore the world with you as my companion. ♥ Nette

My heart melted. I immediately found several more photos on my bed and wardrobe unit. Each of them had a corresponding note on the back that began with a number and started with “I love you because…” I began looking in various corners and spaces. One was under the mattress cover. Another was stuffed into a box containing a brand of red wine I liked and that Nanette had just bought for me. Still another was taped to a pint of chocolate Häagen-Dazs ice cream Nette had also purchased and put in the freezer.

The highest numbered photo I found that night was 36, but I had only found 20 or so. There were still more than ten hidden somewhere. A month later, I’m still uncovering Nanette’s surprise for me photo by photo, heart-studded little note by note.