The saddest thing about not crying in the last three years? How much I want to.
The last time I cried was in Minneapolis three years ago. After Kate and I had a fight because I was jealous of her hanging out once a week with her best friend who is a guy. I cried because I felt sorry for myself. And knew that I was wrong and she was right but still felt sorry for myself. So I apologized and cried and told her this all had something to do with my mom, with me feeling attachment anxiety, or irrational fear of loss, or something. Looking back, I’m not entirely sure, but I think I was just plain jealous.
I don’t know why but now I want to cry with swollen eyes. Kleenex after kleenex. Blow and repeat. Wailing. Hemorrhaging heart. Doesn’t matter where. I’m not depressed. I just think I have a lot to let go of.
Or a lot built up. Times I could have cried, but didn’t.
Nine years ago, I didn’t cry at my mom’s memorial service.
I can’t remember if I cried when my dad called and told me your mom died of a fatal heart attack. I didn’t cry on the airplane home. I told myself and the wisps of white cloud in the sky ocean that I didn’t care if they caused an engine fire and I died up there, screaming my lungs out at 35,000 feet. I didn’t cry when the plane landed and my dad and sisters picked me up from the airport. Even though they were all sniffling and holding one another’s hands, heads, legs. Like someone else might catch death and vanish.
But now my intellectual side wants my emotional side to stand up and get off the floor. My head wants my heart to ball until I’m so dry I start to cough. Sounds like such a release. Like a total purge. Like a 110-degree hot tub. Just boil. Or a 48-degree ice bath. Hatchet to the brain stem.
Four or five years after my mom died, I was boozing heavily. Wine for breakfast, whiskey for everything else. Drank a half a bottle of whiskey each day. And/or a bottle of wine. At least. This was before I met Kate. One summer, I felt the growing urge to cry. I put it on my to-do list. It got passed from one week to the next. The only 3 letters on my list of daily tasks to complete that didn’t get crossed out. CRY. Finally I googled ‘the saddest movies ever.’ I went to a bar because that’s what you do when you’re an alcoholic and don’t have an internet connection. And I can’t remember what movie I watched, but I watched a movie on the patio and I cried. It was dark and tears came in clumps but I remember scrunching my face up and I remember my body shaking and I felt relieved, but not as relieved as I imagined because I was worried what the server might think, if she’d ask if I was okay, or if I needed help. And I didn’t have an answer to either. But I didn’t worry so much about not having an answer, I worried that if I spoke my words would come out phlegmy and muted, and how embarrassing that would be.
I thought about my history of not crying yesterday afternoon. Stove on, a pot of marinara sauce simmering. I cried. Tears surged into my eyes. Out of the blue. I had to stop what I was doing. Turn away from the stove. Salty tears blurred my glasses. The baby was on the floor, playing. She stopped. Looked at me. I wiped my eyes and blew my nose with the last tissue in the box. And then I handed the baby the empty box, which she took gladly. I slurped myself together. All dry. But it made me feel like I wanted more. Much more.
Dicing six red onions will do that.
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