I am excellent at keeping secrets.
I keep every secret anyone ever tells me. I keep them like they are going out of style. I keep them so long that I forget them. I keep secrets even when they are not, strictly speaking, secrets at all.
But this post is not about that.
This post is about the one semi-excruciating time when I didn’t. Keep one.
First, about Greg. Greg is huge. He’s not the tallest boy in school—there’s a senior on the basketball team who’s close to seven feet. And he’s not the heaviest—there are still a few who outdo him when it comes to sheer poundage. However, taking height and weight into account simultaneously, he’s easily the biggest person I’ve ever encountered. He is patently tremendous and has no problem scooping me up with one arm and carrying me around on his shoulder like a doll.
We start hanging out together just before Thanksgiving break, because we have the same off-hour. Mostly, we go over to his house and eat Poptarts and he teaches me to play the bass. He makes up songs about me and I help him with his homework, and sometimes we hang out together at parties or go to movies on the weekends. With anyone else, I might be worried that spending so much time together would mean there was an expectation of it turning into Something Significant, but Greg also happens to be Dill’s best friend, so no matter what, it never, ever feels like a date.
Greg is a classic extrovert and a big self-starter. He likes autonomy and discipline and taking the initiative. He’s a Seven Habits of Highly Effective People type of guy. Until I met Greg, I had never actually heard anyone use the word proactive in conversation.
I like hanging out with him because I can always just say whatever, do whatever, and he never acts like I’m strange. The fact is, he’s way more focused on manifesting a purpose-driven life than on whether or not I happen to be wearing matching socks.
The Afternoon of the Secret is hard to describe. It’s one of those cold, gray days when the sky is flat and low and the whole world seems not-quite-real. Everything is a little too pale and a little too glassy and a little too imaginary, which is probably why I accidentally say what I think in the first place—I just mistake the entire situation for a very vivid dream.
The conversation starts innocently enough.
It comes about because of a Student Council fundraising scheme in which we all fill out a survey in homeroom and get matched up with a handful of other students whose views and personalities complement our own. Then, if you pay a dollar, they’ll give you a printout of your algorithm-approved matches.
Seventeen-year-old Brenna is way too above this whole endeavor to even bother filling out the survey,* but Greg is enthusiastic. Since I generally make it my business to know as much as possible about Everyone Ever, I’m his go-to girl when it comes to evaluating his matches. He’s proactively on the hunt for a relationship and so I go down his list with him, describing the relative merits of each girl and offering my opinion on whether or not they’re appropriate girlfriend material.
We spend close to an hour sitting in his truck, talking about romance and dating and whether you can really measure a person’s character simply by looking at their smile.
I don’t remember a single name on his sheet. But I do remember this conversation, and not just because I wrote it down. At the time, it was actually kind of seared into my soul.