Secrets kept for the maintenance of glory

Secrets kept for the maintenance of glory

I often think about the small town I grew up in, the one I still live in. I sometimes slip into my childhood mind and remember the lady behind the deli counter who sliced our Dutch loaf or the man who pumped our gas at the Arco station. I see them smiling in my mind and realize I’m remembering them through a tightly funneled lens.

As an adult, I realize they too had lives and problems, things I didn’t even know existed in my youth. Maybe my mom went uptown for groceries, with the scarf on her head she often wore if it was cold or rainy, knowing little bits of town gossip or truths. I wonder about this.

There are secrets we keep for the maintenance of glory, moments and people we think are so important to the facade of a town that we keep our lips pursed in communal silence — a learned action so deeply ingrained it comes as naturally as breathing.

Some folks are part of a bigger wheel that is protected, the spokes on that circle well-oiled. They are part of an atmosphere that survives because it is protected, whether by things they have done to bring the town glory or by the jingle in their pockets. Money equals power, but in our area, so does fame.

None of us want to see it, so there is containment. There are threats from people who believe they hold power, those who can’t think outside using their power to silence. There are people and children who get hurt, the suppression of truths compounding inside their hearts almost forever.

Who decides what harmful secrets get to be kept? We’d rather silence a grievous harm than punch it out into the open.

I wonder if the children of our town will look back in 40 years and wonder what the adults were hiding, like I am today. I’d say most of them will flee, glad to be away from a silencing atmosphere.

Or maybe they will never forget that instead of helping, the people who were supposed to care hid the truth — understanding now the cowardice it took to remain silent on things that mattered, that bruised, that assaulted.

My background is all of yours as well. I grew up to realize that when things happened, we mostly just brushed them under the rug with all the other ugly things too hard to face. Unless you were someone “not from here,” then you were fair game.

We all know better, but it’s easier to hide. This generation is far more open to ripping open the seams than we’d like, right? Their words are startling and clear, and for those of us who’d wish them silent so respectable facades can remain intact, well, that’s no longer going to cut it.

We live in a bountiful area that brings in people by the hundreds to see her beauty. What if she was sliced open and exposed, allowing the oozing, painful sores to heal once and for all?

What if we decided the power structures that conceal should be razed and demolished like a building beyond repair?

What if we decided what’s being hidden is more important to expose than what’s being protected? That protecting those in power mattered less than the ones who have been hurt?

I learned a lesson long ago that what people think doesn’t matter. I’ve long stepped out of the “what will people think” mentality. That’s what makes us strong, because what matters is that our children see we do the right thing.

I see glimmers of this, and for that I say bravo. And to those who haven’t quite gotten there yet, I await you.

Melissa Herrera is a published author and opinion columnist. She is a curator of vintage mugs and all things spooky, and her book, “TOÑO LIVES,” can be found at For inquiries, to purchase her book or anything else on your mind, email her at or find her in the thrift aisles.

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