Did you ever keep a secret?

Honestly, this week I’ve been trying not to think about the past. I’ve been trying not to think much at all. I haven’t really felt like writing, either.

But if I did feel like thinking, like writing, I would tell you this story.

I got punished a lot as a teenager. I had a lot of terrible fights with my mom, and I often ended up grounded. I didn’t break a lot of rules, but I did scream at my mom a lot. And she screamed at me. I hardly remember what we fought over; it’s beside the point. Yet I did spend a lot of time alone in my room, especially on Friday nights. This was in the days before the internet, but suffice it to say I had no telephone privileges, no music. It was boring.

If you’ve been reading here a while, you might guess that I didn’t drink, didn’t do drugs. I basically stayed out of trouble. All that time spent grounded probably sounds like overkill. Trust me, it was. I was a good kid.

Except once. My mom was away overnight, helping my sister recover from surgery. I was sixteen. I had a boyfriend, I liked him but didn’t love him. Our usual dates were spent making out in dark movie theaters. Now, this was, I believe, the first night I ever spent alone in my life. So, the first thing I did? I called my boyfriend. He had his mom drop him off, and we spent a couple of hours making out on my couch. I took off my shirt. That’s it. That’s as far as it went. I don’t even think that he returned the favor. I wasn’t ready for more, and he didn’t press me. Nine o’clock rolled around and I put my shirt back on, his mom picked him up, and that was that.

My mom never found out. Good thing — I mean, can you imagine? I might not have made it to college. My mom would have overreacted, I’m sure. But even once I got older, even after I got married, I never admitted it to her. I’m glad that I never shattered her with the truth, that I spared her the inevitable self-examination that knowing would have caused. What’s more, I liked having a secret. It’s shameful, I know. I liked that one single — small — actual misdeed. It made all that time I spent grounded feel worth it. It made me happy.