The Wake

From an old journal

What line separates the personal me from the public me? Is it even a line? Does it move around? I say so much on here but even that is in vague riddles half the time. And why? Other people ask me why, I ask myself as well, but there is no real answer. I’m not comfortable. I don’t like other people to know things. They can use that knowledge then. They could tell more people I don’t want to know and everything could spread. Am I hiding something? Sure, I’m hiding lots, but nothing specific. I don’t have a secret book in my closet of all my dirty history or anything. It’s everything all at once.

Some people are so happy to tell your their life stories in five minutes. Others claim no secrets at all and say that everything they do they wear on their shoulder. But most of us hide. We are wary to share our pasts because of the hurt they caused us or others, or the fears we have about how others will perceive us. I’m a little of all of that, and a little of something different. I enjoy the mystery. I enjoy the private life, knowing that others don’t know me. It makes me smile when I’m in bed at night and I think about all those secrets bottled up inside. Is that a secret in itself?

I was at a wake yesterday. A lot of things run through your mind when standing in front of a coffin, looking at the deceased body of someone you once knew alive. I like to imagine that they are all the same thoughts. That everyone thinks the same few things. Maybe something like:

  • What will I look like when I’m gone
  • Will I even care?
  • Will other people think the same thing when they look at me?
  • How will they remember me at my wake?

The list isn’t really that large. There is, of course, a good deal of memory of the deceased. Thoughts, wishes, prayers to that person. And the rest, I feel, must be very self-centered. Perhaps it’s just me and my selfish ways. But maybe it’s all of us, like I imagine.

I don’t fear my secrets after death. Letting them die with me will be just fine with me. All those people who entrusted things to me, all of those moments in my life, all gone. It’s a beautiful things, really. How much can people really remember about you, anyway? I’d much rather take things to the grave then let the world digest upon scraps, taking only the barest of interests. Does that make sense? Selfish again. They’re mine, my secrets, and I’ll keep them forever.

But the end will decide. We’ll see what I do, how I fare, and who I tell. It’s a short list so far.

“There are two kinds of people in Alaska: those who were born here and those who come here to escape something.”