Lousy at Keeping Secrets

Map of USA with Massachusetts highlighted
Oh, my goodness. We're moving to a state smaller than I've ever even imagined. (Image via Wikipedia)

The first Christmas after my husband and I graduated from undergrad (before he was my husband), I bought him a leather jacket. This gift was perfect for him, not because a leather jacket is inherently awesome. Even back then the idea of an entire garment made of the skin of a dead animal was a little unsavory to me.

What made this jacket a perfect gift was the way I set it up.

“I think I’m going to get a leather jacket,” he told me over the phone. He was in North Carolina and I was in Ohio. He’d started grad school down there and I was still up living with my mom and working at a crappy local newspaper. I would be moving in with him after the first of the year, but since graduation in May, we’d been doing the long-distance relationship thing.

“You don’t want a leather jacket,” I told him. “It’s totally impractical. It’s not that warm, you can’t wear it in the rain, it’s expensive.” I went through all the reasons he shouldn’t get a leather jacket, and I convinced him he shouldn’t buy one.

Then I went to some leather store at the mall and bought him one.

It was really nice. It was a longer jacket with a zip-in quilted lining. I was so excited that I’d bought it for him and that I’d set it up so he wouldn’t even suspect that’s what I’d gotten him. All I needed to do was keep it a secret for about a week until we saw each other and I gave him the gift.

I am notoriously bad at keeping secrets. I don’t gossip, so I have that going for me. But when I have a good, exciting secret, I have a compulsion to share it with those closest to me. My not-yet-husband was (and is) my best friend. Keeping a secret from him proved too much for me. Despite my best efforts, I was sabotaged by myself.

Talking on the phone with him a few days before his visit, I was silently congratulating myself that I hadn’t said anything about the jacket. Then in a moment of silence I said, “Man, but when you see your jacket—oh, crap!”

Since last Friday, I’ve been sitting on some job news. I did OK while I had posts lined up ahead of time. But once those ran out, I just didn’t know what to say. In my post about Ann Packer’s The Dive from Clausen’s Pier, I mention that my process when writing is to start with an image and write around that and let the story unfold. With blogging, I set my brain to the topic at hand and then sit at the computer and let my brain roam free, gathering disparate elements and connecting them in, I hope, an interesting and compelling fashion.

This process is not conducive to secret-keeping.

All that’s been on my mind this past week is the job news. I wanted to wait until we had a set date for leaving before I broadcast a message about the job. The only way I could do that was not to blog at all. As you may have noticed, I’ve been blogging daily, but the posts have been fairly uninspired. It’s amazing how much it hampers my creativity when the only thing on my mind is the thing that I’ve decided not to write about.

Now since other people aren’t as hung up on forward planning as I am, and because the longest I’m able to keep an exciting secret is about one week, I’ve decided to modify my original plan and just blog about it, finally, when my husband signed the official offer. That happened today.

In two weeks (give or take…have I mentioned I don’t do well with uncertainty? Would someone please let me schedule some movers already?), we’ll be moving to Massachusetts, kids, cats, VitaMix and all. I’ve got some great (I hope) “planning a week-long cross-country road-trip with kids and cats” posts coming up, as well as some glowing, tearful posts about how much I love Utah, warts and all, even as I’m so incredibly excited to be moving back east again. I fear that “Service” as a topic may have been abandoned for the month, unless you consider finding someone to take my houseplants “Service.”

And just for the record, my husband still wears the leather jacket, fourteen years later. It will be coming to Massachusetts with us. It was an awesome gift after all.

6 Replies to “Lousy at Keeping Secrets”

  1. Congratulations. Why is it that every time I begin to get to know an amazing woman she moves away? *sigh* At least I have imperfect happiness 😉


    1. Usually by the time I move, I feel very ready for it. This time, I don’t feel ready (emotionally) at all. It’s been three years, but it seems like we just got to Utah. It will be interesting to see how blogging plays into the move this time.


  2. Congratulations on the new location! Dh and I met at Boston University and I miss Boston almost every day still (although after a few days on vacation getting 3 kids across an iced over parking lot and into an SUV in the sleet, and I’m glad for the Bay Area)

    I’m also bad at keeping secrets. I blurt them out just like you do. I keep the secret so well, congratulate myself, and then mention it in passing. Doh! But, I think it’s endearing when others do it because it shows how much they wear their hearts on their sleeves.

    Best wishes on the transition. I wish it were closer, not farther. But, after losing 3 friends to Australia and Korea this year, it doesn’t seem so far. We’ll just delay that coffee date!


    1. If you have connections in Boston, we might be more likely to get together with me in Massachusetts than with me in Utah. That’s certainly going to be the situation with our friends in Oregon, I think!


  3. Yay!!! That’s so exciting! I can’t wait to hear all about the road trip. What great news! Congrats to both of you.


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