Closeness and Distance.

Ok, I'm skipping the (six post) buffer to post this as I write it, because it's timely.

I have a little brother. I call him Blue. His Blog can be found on Xanga at DeepBlueSee.

He recently posted a 16 question query about people who know him, which was to be copied and pasted into the comments field and then responded to. This creates an instant feedback loop about the author from his friends, and is a very cool idea.

Rather than providing feedback about the writing, it provides feedback about the author and gives the other readers a frame of reference built out of the impressions of the author's friends.

Here is the permanent link to that post, with comments.

Something struck me when I read through the eight responses to his post. In eight responses, including his girlfriend, adopted family, and close friends, one set of responses stood out. It was Jason, his twin brother. They are as alike as twins can be, sometimes disconcertingly so. My ex-girlfriend thought Justin had grown a beard incredibly quickly when she saw Jason for the first time. Now, I'll be the first to admit that my ex wasn't the brightest bulb in the chandelier at all times, but they are close enough that such an error is easy to make.

The reason Jason's comments stood out is intriguing to me. The 12th question in the list (numbered 13) is "Ever wanted to tell me something but couldn't?"

It's a good question. It betrays a fundemental and important line being drawn in the sand. And Jason, the man closer to Blue than anyone, who has literally known Blue since before birth, is the only responder who gave an affirmative answer to this question. Now, I know Blue pretty well, and I'm confidant when I say that there is nothing that Blue cannot hear from his brother that will ruin their friendship. No fact too secret or dark and sinister for it to destroy Blue's ability to be a brother to his twin. And yet there is some piece of information, some story or tale or fact that remains reserved by a twin brother. Not perhaps out of fear or malice but a simple need to contain the secret within himself that overrules all other impulses and even the most conrete types of trust.

It's causing the formation of an idea in my head. When you first meet someone, you have a very limited need to share information with them. Maybe something sets off a visual connection and you have a common thread (A shirt for a developer, or a beret for a French major) but the desire to share anything that you might need to keep secret is nil. All the information you feel driven to share is public knowledge. Or at least, the knowledge you share has such a low 'secrecy quotient' that you can share it without guilt.

As the relationship develops, and as you and your new aquaintance become more and more intimate with information, you begin to break down the social constructs that would keep you from telling them the secrets of your life, and the information that other people don't know (how you hated 5th grade, then how you never understood punk music even though you tried for years, then how you were once sent home from school for calling someone a horrible name you are now ashamed to whisper) becomes something you want to share, and your closeness to the person continues to override the secrecy quotient.

But perhaps, at some point, with those of us who keep secrets, there are some that have such strength that their containment outstrips all closeness and understanding. We meet lovers, spouses, brothers, sisters, mentors and students. We form bonds that will withstand the test of time. We make friendships that we would give anything to keep. We form loyalties so powerful that we would die for our dearly beloved. But for some of us, there are still those things that we want to tell someone, and yet refuse to reveal. For some of us for whom there might be a secret so deep, and so dark, that it will never see the light of day. What an amazing thought, that our desire to tell such secrets increases as we become closer and closer in our relationships with others, and yet there might still be some mystery insurmountable by any form of intimacy.

What secrets do you keep? Do you ever dream of telling them to someone?

Saturday, June 11, 2005


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