On Secrets

Essay 33

How come the day comes when your secrets no longer make you special? I remember the old days, the drawers, the wiling, the rumours that could end you forever; I hid photos and writing, I hid cigarettes, underwear, men quizzed me about experience like it was unique, the hunt for the trivia.

Then at some point when you’re older, and you find you’re full of secrets — you walk a labyrinth of hiding between the bedroom and the kitchen — you realise your secrets are everyone’s. Kundera’s jealous husband, as he finds his wife’s love letters under her panties, is first puzzled whether she has an identity, doing the thing all slipping wives on earth do. And our conversations change too, nuance no longer needs adding, people ripple under the surface, there’s trembling where the light breaks, it’s there, it cannot be stopped, the fuel that drives us from below is all shared— deep-running sedimentary layer atop layer, under the motion, under the vegetation, with the dead shell, the coiled snail, imprinted.

It’s on one of those days that your truths start to make you interesting. The hands reaching out of the tide, the fingerprints wrinkled by water, each an unmistakable one-off; an individual. What you know then starts to make you, what you can be sure of, what you’ve got to teach, all that you’ve figured out. There’s an endless arms race between the tragedy and the mind. We all come from the same place until it doesn’t count. Your open map, your palms’ lines — where you’re going — are the you.