Despite a few rather notable exceptions, I’ve found I’m not a big crier.
I have nothing against it, mind you. I think tears are rather good for your skin, and they can be rather poetic and lovely and necessary, like when Emma Thompson totally loses it at the end of Sense and Sensibility.
It’s just not my thing, I guess (come to think of it, it wasn’t Elinor’s either, was it?). I don’t conceal my emotions: they are apparent to everyone. But more often than not, they choose to present themselves not through tears but rather through sarcasm, weird facial expressions, and an insatiable hunger for cookies.
Every now and then, though, I’ll find myself at the precipice of “The Crying Place”. And when I’m there, even the most innocuous and trivial issue will set me off.
“This is idiotic,” I will think, as I wipe at my face with my palms, shaking as I try to get air.
“I’m crying for no real reason, and there are plenty people who have bigger issues to cry about than I do, and good heavens WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?”
Rather unhelpfully, this train of thought will result in even more tears. Sometimes, I guess, you just need to spend a little time in The Crying Place. And then you need people to pull you out of it.
This past Saturday was Rand’s holiday party, and the morning of, I found myself heading, more or less uncontrollably, towards the Weepytown (population: me). I can’t precisely say what put me on that path. The morning started out nicely enough – I was up early, sitting in my sunny office, getting tons of work done while Rand snoozed below. It wasn’t until I checked my phone, many hours later, that I realize I had missed breakfast with my friend Ruth (who was in town that weekend for the party) and a group of girlfriends.
I steadied my chin, which had started quivering in a rather unpleasant manner, and instead of having brunch with friends, I ate a bowl of cereal. Rand, too, seemed on edge, and I realized that it is very easy, when you are careening towards The Crying Place, to drag other innocent people with you.
Later, I burned lunch. And found that I had made our dinner reservation for the wrong time. Oh, and the fight I’d had with a relative the night before, which had unfolded entirely over text message, of all things, was lurking at the edge of my mind.
Sometime around the middle of the afternoon, when I should have been getting ready, I found myself sniffling, facedown, into the comforter of our bed.
“I can’t do anything right,” I told Rand.
“That’s not true.”
“I missed breakfast and I burned lunch and I messed up our dinner reservation. I suck at so many things,” I said.
And despite my husband’s pleas to the contrary, I could not be disabused of this notion. Sometimes, a good cry will get you out of The Crying Place. Sometimes, it will pull you farther in. The latter seemed to be the case on this day, and even after a few minutes of tears I still felt strangely brittle, on the verge of another deluge.
I pulled myself together sometime before dinner, but fessed up to my tears over moules frites while talking to my friend Kim.
She smiled sympathetically.
“Oh, I’ve been there,” she said. “And then you find yourself crying about something stupid and you think: I CANNOT be crying about this.”
I nodded and laughed, and felt myself stepping away from the edge of tears.
Later, at the party, I saw Ruth.
“I’m a moron,” I said, about missing breakfast.
She waved it off. “Brunch is usually a Sunday thing,” she said, of the mix-up. And then she suggested we head to where the photographer was stationed in a quiet corner of the restaurant.
The more people you cram inside a photobooth, I’ve found, the sooner things fall apart. And when you are already feeling as though you might crumble into a thousand pieces (dear god, in front of all of your husband’s coworkers), the added chaos can be a scary thing. But we sat down, and almost immediately, Ruth put order to the madness.
“Okay, first photo, point at the beards! Everyone point at the beards!”
She went on, giving direction before each click of the camera.
Second photo: Look thoughtful!
Fourth: Dinosaur hands!
This was the result:
When we left the photobooth, I found I was no longer in The Crying Place. Instead, I was in the Dinosaur Hands/ Loving a Beardo Place (copyright Ruth, 2013).
It’s a good place to be. And two days later? I find I’m still there.