Some group of native people or other — forgive the nonspecificity, but it’s Sunday, and I’m far too lazy for research — believed that if you told people your real name, which had been given to you at birth by the shaman, that you would lose your soul. I love this idea. Not of having a secret name, necessarily, but about having a secret self.
For the most part, I tell it like it is. Not out of any commitment to truth, necessarily, but because I am incapable of subterfuge. Things pop into my head and then they roll right out my mouth. I get mad easily and hold grudges never. My blood pressure should be right on par with a cold-blooded animal away from its heat rock.
A short while ago, a friend of mine called me up to ask me if I was mad at her. We hadn’t talked for awhile, and she was afraid that she’d done something to piss me off. I said, “Have I called you lately to tell you that I’m pissed? No? Then I’m not pissed.” It’s true. If nothing else, you always know where you stand with me.
But there are some things that I’ll never tell. Secrets that are so small and inconsequential that there’s no reason not to tell them, but I never will. Thoughts I had when I was a kid, and the world was covered with a hallucinatory sheen that I can still glimpse sometimes when I’m sleeping enough and spending enough time alone and remembering who I am. These are my secret self.
Even more recently, another friend of mine told me about why she’d stopped talking to this girl we both know. The girl was needy, and wanted to know, always, what my friend was thinking, what she wanted, what they should do on that particular day, how she was feeling. Was she mad? Was she mad? Was she mad? This girl could not be alone.
I felt sorry for her. She must feel naked all the time. Exposed. There should always be a locked room in your heart, where your best secrets live. If you give them away, all you’re left with is your reflection in the mirror.