the plane guts and dips, sailing in through the headwinds like a drunk girl in unfamiliar heels.

i am in the twelfth row, the hind end of a glorified sardine can. out the rounded rectangle of my window, the earth lurches toward us at strange angles. my stomach tries to grab hold of something solid. my seat vibrates. i note the world carved into patchwork squares below and remember the flight path is over my house.

it is only the gunning roar of the engines that frightens me.

three feet over the runway, we coast like a glider, suspended. an engine sounds its barbaric yawp and i believe for a moment that we will rise again, a phoenix tracing loop-dee-loops against the gray sky. then a wobble, and my eyes wait for the spark and explosion of wing against asphalt.

the perfect metaphor for coming home.

after flying, landing is hard.

i spoke at Blissdom Canada: our panel was a big, glorious Kleenex ad. we told stories, and then so did the audience, and they took over in a groundswell. there’s good going on out here in real, individual lives. there was weeping and rejoicing and really, it was better than Christmas. less cleanup.

i watched half my Twitter stream come to life: words made flesh. i sat with people. i touched my hands to your faces, some of you. i heard you laugh. i watched you walk and take up space. i watched your eyes dart about for somewhere to hide.

and i realize now, the story i should have told: everyone is made of secrets.

i heard more secrets in two days in person than i’ve been privy to in years online.

i keep reading that we bloggers spill our guts for breakfast, that we are narcissists, attention whores.  the cruellest volley ever fired in the war between objective truth and pluralism was not that stories don’t count, but that those who tell them must be pathological.

they’re wrong.

we are all soft in the middle, somewhere. yeh, even you with the abs. but you know that. we all have broken places, hurts. we’ve all done terrible or wonderful things in the dark, at least once. we’re too old now to deny it. most of us have had things happen that we didn’t deserve. there’s no point in shame, but it’s damn hard to unlearn.

we hold our closest stories to our vests until we see the whites of your eyes. we only tell in the flesh.

maybe we’re making a mistake.

we give our secrets too much power. especially when we live our lives in the glare of the internet: we release 98% of ourselves into the wild and hold back the lumpy bumpy 2% as if it were the Real Thing and we risk making it the Real Thing by treating it like a royal flush to be played when the stakes are highest.

i landed back in my own living room like Dorothy catapulted from a sleepless tornado of polyester and blond wigs, and the grind of housework and deadlines and two children who can’t seem to share the same space without talking at once landed on me like landfill. and i stared at Dave across the expanse of our couch wondering if there was anything about me he didn’t already know and if my real secret is that i’m dull and mundane and a stress monkey who’s actually 98% lumpy bumpy bits. and then i ranted for awhile.

a little bit of freedom is a dangerous weapon.

the truth about secrets, of course, is there are only so many. we live in bodies. they are vulnerable and beautiful. and we are petty and kind, clannish and magnanimous. we are not our secrets, nor just the sum of the parts we share. i knew this when i sat with you. i need to remember, when i sit with myself.

me. not me. mileage may vary.

Kate took more pictures of me in Toronto than i’ve been in since i had kids. to the self sitting here on my couch in dirty jeans, they are the secret, the hidden life. they are also only a story, a thin veneer. they are a promise of next time, and a nod that says, i see you, in your jeans and crumbs and deadlines and pretend secrets.

i wobble like the plane, landing, then coast back into my life.