Sunday, July 4, 2010

Dirty Little Secrets

When I was 8, I went to New York City with all the women of my family to celebrate my grandmother's birthday. We stayed at the Waldorf Astoria, drank at Trump Plaza (where I sent my Shirley Temple back for being too light on the grenadine-- I've always been particular about my drinks,) ate at delis and from Zabars and Tavern on the Green and went to a Broadway play (Ragtime). At night, tucked into our hotel rooms, we amused ourselves in the city life. My aunt still had her opera glasses from the play, and using them, we peered into the lives of the people in the apartment building across the street. There was the muscular gay couple tangoing. (Not a euphemism.) There was a woman who couldn't decide what bra matched her outfit. Lots of people watched TV or worked out. And there were a few windows I was not allowed to look in. (Now I understand.) This, the strict voyeurism and the intrigue, more than the play, the food, or the weekend's daytime events, sticks with me the most about this trip.

If there's one thing I've learned, it's that people have a fascination with other people's lives. What strikes me the most about Batman's villains is that they're all different people than they appear to be, just like Batman himself, or you, or me, or the guy you're currently dating. True, they may not be as juicy as Selena Kyle/Catwoman or Bruce Wayne/Batman, but we all have secret lives. There are things that we all do that other people may never know about. There can even be large chunks of unaccounted for history between people who think they know each other so well. But the fact is, no matter how much we want our secrets to stay secret, there will always be someone else with a pair of binoculars looking into the windows of our lives and our minds. And though we may prefer to be creatures of mystery, damn sure we hate it when others are.

I air my laundry pretty throughly. Part of this blog is making a good half of my life public knowledge, but there are some things I have learned to draw the line at. Hence, recently, a casual friend of mine came up to me with a surprised "I never knew until it was over!"

I shrugged. "I like to keep some things low-key; quiet," I told her. Even you, dear readers, probably only get a very sheltered half of the stories. Some of you know more than others. Some of you know EXACTLY the story. Still others of you, have absolutely no need to know. It's difficult at times. Sometimes, knowing that I could get the feedback or sympathy or support I crave by telling the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me god, is tempting. Sometimes, I want to Anais Nin that shit and blow it all wide open. But what stops me is the fact that no matter how many hundreds or thousands of people read about it, it's not really going to change much for me. In fact, it may even get in the way. Just like those people living their lives in those New York apartments didn't know that they were being watched, knowing that they were would have made them act differently, in ways less true to themselves. So, maybe, by at least pretending to leave someone's life alone, it's really the best way to let them learn and grow through whatever is happening, without interfering. It's hard, but it's best to wait it out.

That's why it's so weird to be living in the same city as people you know so well, so intimately, so conventionally, and still have no idea what's happening with them.


P.S-- I guess I've come full retribunial circle with the whole , because due to my lack of modesty, I have become That Girl in the neighborhood that the neighbors can count on to forget to close her curtain, cook half-naked in the kitchen, or sprint by the living room windows on the way to the bathroom fully nekkid. Perhaps I have a guilty and paying-for-it-now conscious from all those years back.

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