My friend told me she never cries. She simply didn’t feel sadness much and never had any real reason to cry.
Either she is lying or she is painfully un-self-aware. You can’t say, “boo,” to her without making her break-down. I’ve never seen someone cry so much as she does.
Except for me.
I cry all the time. Ten things that made me cry last week:
- Simone Biles
- Ruth 1:16
- A new book on home decorating
- Joe Strummer’s rendition of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song
- My husband and I got into an argument one morning and he came home from work early to be the first to apologize.
- A dear friend sent me a very sweet text
- A scene I wrote
- A Facebook Memory of a video of my son at a swim lesson when he was three
- A video about overcoming feelings of insignificance
- I felt lonely
Those are very specific examples that I can remember. There are also some general stuff that turns on the waterworks for me anytime, all the time. A note: to me crying is a spectrum, ranging from tearing up to total meltdown. Not everything reduces me to a shaking, leaking shell of a woman, but the following can be a challenge…
The Star Spangled Banner
I can’t sing it. When the world gasped and pointed at Gabby Douglas during her team’s medal ceremony because she didn’t belt out the words or place her hand over her heart, I almost cried for her. It would take everything I had not to ugly-cry while receiving an Olympic medal. I don’t know if I could even stand. Would it be un-patriotic for me to collapse in a snotty puddle while the national anthem played and men and women in military service saluted?
I always have to pretend the sun is in my eyes at the start of baseball games. I know, pathetic.
Whenever Anyone Else Cries
Please don’t cry in my presence. If you cry, I have to cry. I carry little packets of tissues wherever I go. If you start to cry, I’ll hand you a Kleenex and we will have a good cry together. I have cried with friends and strangers. Once, with a WWII POW when he told me how many of his buddies have passed during and since that war and how hard they fought and how proud they were to do it.
Not many books make me cry, but when they do, roll up your pants legs. Here comes the flood. Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague and The Border of Paradise: A Novel both made me cry buckets, but there were others. My new decorating book, The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful made me cry. My home doesn’t have to perfect to be beautiful?? Pass a tissue.
This is a weird thing for even me to handle. Music makes me cry. It tickles my brain. Any kind of music will do it. I have to try not to cry. This can make me look a little looney in public. If I’m at home and the Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’s Fever To Tell makes me cry, then I’ll let it all out. Maybe my eyeballs need washing.
So there’re a lot of social experiments where people are filmed doing the right thing. Like this one of an African man who receives a racist message on social media and asks strangers if they would interpret it for him. Or this one, where young people are asked to interview for a thankless job (the one their moms do). CRYING.
I don’t know why. Maybe it’s all the breathing. I just pretend I put too much downward in my dog.
Of course. What am I? A monster?
Now, to be sure, all this boo-hoo-ing takes place between my normal emotions, like crying at normal things, general well-being and happiness, feelings of gratitude (when I remember I’m not homeless and, dear God, what they must cry about), love for my family and friends and laughing at funny things.
Humans are the only animals that can cry from feelings. Crying makes us feel better and it may help us to connect with others. I think that’s good, don’t you? Tears make us human.
Which makes me cry.