Gathering secrets like dust bunnies

Last year, I started getting antsy when one of my old school chums reminded me that we were coming upon our 25 year class reunion. Twenty five years, really? Where did the time go? I thought of all the kids with pimples and all the beauty queens and all the just-there teens who came, went, and never really made an impact (read: me) and I wondered where they all ended up. It was a passing mindful meander, because all those who I wanted to keep in touch with, I did. My best friend in school is still the gal I call on a Saturday night for a social event, she’s still the one I call when I need an honest, secret shoulder.

Yes. All of those who mattered to me are still in my life.

Except one.

I lost touch of one particular friend shortly after high school. He was my gossip buddy, a lively fella who always had a smile, who always delivered everything he had to say with breathless excitement. Literally. Sometimes, I swear we had to remind him to take a breath. He knew everything. If someone had a secret, he knew it. He was master of secrets and he always made me laugh.

I missed him.

I wondered where he went. What happened to him. I saw him once, just one year after we graduated. He was working in leather somewhere in Toronto and had come home for a week. We all went out pubbing at our one and only late night bar. All I remember from that night is that we talked of purple leather.

Then I never saw him again. There was no internet, no Facebook, no MSN at the time. We lost touch. Once I decided to move onto FaceBook, I did search for him, but he never ever showed.

So I asked the reunion planner through FB chat of course, “Where’s Glenn, anyway?”

No one knew.

It would be a month at least, just a week or so before the reunion, before I had my answer.

He had passed away twenty years earlier.

Twenty years.


But the news hit as if he had just died. The rawness, the shock, the grief was still there, it didn’t matter that he’d been long gone. I wanted to know why, what happened, and the word was chilling if it was indeed true: that dreaded ‘A’ word that terrified sexually active people everywhere in the 80s like the horrible ‘C’ word scares most everyone else now.

I wasn’t surprised to realize that my friend who gathered secrets like dust bunnies had one of his own, one he wanted to keep silent until he could get out of town into the anonymity of a big city like Toronto. But that was no secret, not really. There are no secrets in a small town.

Still, I grieved. I grieve. I think about him frequently. He would have died before he was twenty five. I hope he let that secret go before he did. I hope he didn’t die in anonymity, and if he did, I hope he knows now that there are people who think of him still. People like me.

It all makes me think about the need for secrecy for people who are other minded than the ‘norm’. It makes me wonder about the damage it does to a person’s psyche, their spirit, their sense of self when they have to be constantly fighting against the stream of bias and discrimination.

I didn’t write Anomaly for Glenn, especially, though I’m sure a little of him is in there.

I wrote it for me, so I could process all the strangeness of what we consider normal and how those of us who do not have to fight a battle that some wage just to get through the day affect others with our own baggage.

Because we all have some damage done somewhere inside that we need to process and assimilate; it doesn’t matter that Anomaly has a transgender character, the truth is J is a person first. Just like you and me.

We need to honor each other. Right from the school chums with pimples to the ones who are just there, doing nothing but living their lives quietly anonymous from your scrutiny.

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Thea Atkinson is a writer of character driven fiction.

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17 comments on “Gathering secrets like dust bunnies
  1. […] the post I had put up one day before was this one about secrets: AND incidentally, on the 25th, an article came out from a book reviewer (Jodi Delong) who had […]

  2. […] Me Some « Gathering secrets like dust bunnies Do you drool when you read? […]

  3. jaxbee says:

    Thea, so sad but beautifully written. I completely understand how you could grieve twenty years after Glenn’s death. I’m sure, looking down on us (I’m not sure I believe in heaven but I do believe the souls of those who touch our lives live on and watch out for us too, if we let them) he’d be quite pleased you were so touched after so long. I will retweet this but not because of your competition (not to say I wouldn’t like to win, of course!) but because everyone should read it!

    • oh you’ve made me incredibly warm and fuzzy with this comment, Jackie. I do believe we touch each other in ways we may not even know. thanks for taking the time to comment and share too.

  4. Sorry to hear about your friend Thea. I know exactly how that must feel. I recently learned that one of my school mates passed away. I don’t know how , but my favorite memories of her are all about the happy times we spent together in school. We didnt meet after highschool at all. I feel for you.

    Nice to meet you on twitter.


    • Thanks Suma. It was sad because it was so unexpected. i’m not family or anything, but it doesn’t mean I can’t mourn. thanks for the comment. I’m sorry to hear about your friend too. I guess I’ll be hearing about more and more as I get older. sigh.

  5. Viv says:

    I know how this sort of thing feels, and how raw it is.
    Small towns are not good places for big souls.
    I am sorry for your loss.

  6. All we have to do is rebuke the hate and the darkness will flee. It is our right and solemn duty to bring love back to the world. Thank you for shining a light on our current limitations.

  7. Beautiful post, Thea, and reminds me that life is short.

    One never knows how long we have to do all the things we’d like to do. The old saying “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” is a good one to remember.


  8. PWaYnEC says:

    Great post Thea. I think we all have someone like that from our pasts that we loose touch with in our lives. Reading this reminded me of someone too. Thanks.

    • I’m glad it reminded you of someone. Strange how folks from our pasts haunt us in so many ways. I do hope the memories are good ones as mine are. Thanks so much for visiting and commenting.

  9. 😦 I’m sorry for your loss. When I was in high school there was a younger student I considered a friend. Not a romantic interest, just a friend I was fond of. He moved away, and I found out almost a year later that he had died of a freak hemorrhage- he was 14. He had been dead for months and no one had thought to tell me. I was devastated.

    We do have to honor each other.

  10. Aww, that’s so sad to find that out, Thea. *hugs*

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