Posted: June 13, 2021
Here’s my submission to Kleroteria:
Have you ever just...not told anyone something? Not purposefully keeping a secret, but incidentally? I’m sure we all have.
I don’t mean the massive kind of thing that your mind jumps to when someone requests that you “tell me something no one else knows;” I mean something that doesn’t matter at all in the grand scheme of things.
When I was ten or so, I almost drowned in the Atlantic Ocean. The current caught me and the waves crashed me around and around until I knew I was going to die. I didn’t, as you may have guessed, but I also didn’t tell anyone when I survived. It was summer, and my sister and I were with our father and stepmother, on our annual summer road trip to see his side of the family. It was some New England beach that I don’t remember aside from the heaviness of the water and the sharpness of the tiny grains of sand.
I kept the story to myself for over twenty years before telling my brother.
The needless secrecy of it has stayed with me ever since, though. Why didn’t I say anything at the time? I’d come to the conclusion that I was embarrassed at letting nature get the best of me, but now I’m not so sure. I think I just didn’t want to worry my father. I didn’t want to risk losing these few and far-between opportunities for, well, risk.
I was not an adventurous child. I was painfully shy, and I mean *painfully* shy. My mother broke her ankle once, and I was too shy to fetch the neighbor for help, but in those brief summer visits with my father, it was different. I was different. I learned to ride a bicycle, complete with falling and skinned knees and bloody scrapes. I made friends quickly and effortlessly, friends that I still have to this very day. I built odd things in my father’s workshops, and I drank gallons of water from pointed paper cups when I would go with him to the oil rigs where he did mystical electrician things.
And I swam in the ocean without fear.
I wanted to write to you about pain and fear and cancer because that is my life now, but when I finally opened this window and started typing, those things fell away and I remembered the weight of the water and my struggle for light and breath.
Tell me, what is a secret that you’ve never shared with anyone? How long have you been holding it tight to yourself? Do you want to let it go, or is it more comfortable to keep it? Let me know.