Some people feel more comfortable thinking of it as privacy. But privacy is just high class secrets.
Mom’s good at keeping secrets.
I know there's a secret when she's looking at her hands, inspecting her nails, checking her cuticles, avoiding my eyes.
She's lived most of her life in the city where no one looks you in the eye.
I know because I grew up there; riding on trains, staring straight ahead, looking out windows, sneaking glimpses in reflections, never daring to look someone in the eyes. Always gazing straight ahead with intention and purpose, even in elevators, concentrating on the numbers as they flashed by, as if life depended on it.
When she avoids my eyes I know there's a secret.
I've always felt more like the mother with mom. Like cheering her up after a fight with dad, pretending to be a penguin, rocking side to side, making what I thought were penguin noises.
I felt like I needed to take care of her. Still do.
Mom kept secrets from me, even when they were about me, like the one I found out while playing with my cousin in Central Park.
I love Central Park. It's just five blocks from where I grew up. The closest place with trees and rocks and a playground.
So, we're on the see-saw and I'm hanging in the air at the top, unable to push myself back down. I'm stuck. Stuck because I'm skinny. Stuck because I'm weak. Stuck at the whine of my cousin.
I don't like my cousin. She has secrets like my mom. And was mean, like laughing if I fell or thought something was wrong.
So, she ceases my stuck, weakling, moment, and tells me my dad's not my dad.
I mean, how mean is that? Really mean!
I don't understand why people say such mean things.
I just wanted to cry but instead I jumped off the see-saw and ran, ran, ran, all the way home. Not waiting for the elevator, not counting floors, not this time. I just climbed the 11 flights to my door, fumbled with the key, and hoped there were no secrets inside.