After a lifetime of broadcasting her every need to anybody who would listen, Kina has finally discovered the beauty and power of secrets. At first, like all of us once must have, she thought of secrets not as knowledge held in escrow, but as words quietly spoken. Walking around the house, she would move her lips in silence, giving very little voice to her own internal dialogue. Secrets, to her, were silences made visible.
The next phase to Kina’s understanding of secrets was proximity. A few weeks ago, Kina began to approach me and place her lips against my ear, silently articulating whatever was on her mind against the side of my head. In words so hushed as to be effectively inaudible, she laid out her stories and wishes for us in a pantomime of whispering. At this stage, secrets for her were simply desires that she carried closer to us so that we could better understand their value to her.
It wasn’t until about a week and a half ago, when I caught her looking out of the corner of her eye at me while telling a secret to Laurea, that I saw her understand something deeper and more mystical about secrets—their secrecy.
Today, for Kina, secrets (given voice in a legitimate whisper) have come to signify knowledge that you can’t reveal. Secrets are confidences, and she takes them extremely seriously. Kina has specific secrets for everybody she knows, desires specifically targeted to whichever caregiver is most likely to grant them: snacks for Laurea, educational videos for me—to each of us, our vices. I only know this because Laurea has told me at night what Kina asks for in the day; neither of us is technically allowed to divulge Kina’s secrets to the other.
With Lala in town, Kina took this to an absurd new level, sharing a whole spectrum of secrets with her grandmother and admonishing her loudly from several feet away if Lala dared to reveal them. We still have no idea what secrets the two of them hold for each other, and Lala’s flown the coop now, so we may never find out. Lala has secrets of Kina’s that we don’t know, which is a slightly disturbing revelation, in as much as it’s reminded us that Kina, in general, is chock full of secrets that we don’t know.
Whatever it is that you call a secret you hold for yourself, the feeling of divulging it in hushed tones to just one other soul on earth is profoundly satisfying. The cloud of things we know seems sometimes to be wrapped in a delicate membrane, and it doesn’t feel like we truly know these things until that membrane is pierced. Knowledge is fragile and forceful at the same time; the secret that slinks its way out of Kina’s brain is simultaneously embodied and exposed. A truth that only Kina knows is solid and secure, protected by its own ephemerality; once shared, it becomes real, the most delicate thing in the world.
It makes me wonder why we take up the telling of secrets in the first place. Shared secrets are our original sin, the things that make us a civilization, even in their flaws—thrilling, vulnerable, necessary. Watching Kina learn about them gives us an unusual insight into what secrets actually are: not just whispers, not just confidences, but knowledge you hold for yourself behind pursed lips, revealed at last in a breath.
She wants a snack. That’s for you and you alone to know.
Today’s Parade, according to Kina, is a “free draw”—the spiritual cousin of “free dance”, the part of her dance classes in the park where you can move however you’d like and not have to worry about precision or purpose. It’s gorgeous.