Tag Archive | crying in public

The Do’s and Don’ts of Crying in Public

Sometimes I cry, and sometimes I’m in public when the urge strikes.  I’ve learned a lot from crying out in the big wide world, and because I’m a giver, I made a primer.

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These are my tips for the fine art of losing your shit in front of strangers.  Pass them along.

1. Do walk a few blocks away from your office. The only thing worse than avoiding strangers who might try to console you on the sidewalk is running into your co-workers who will be full of questions. It will be awkward if you have to lie and say, “Gram’s in hospice” or “I’m pregnant” because you don’t want them to know that the boss who just offered them the corner office by the good copier just offered you a free subscription to Monster.com.

2. Do bring your phone. You don’t have to call anyone. You don’t even need a charged battery. You really just need a phone case. When the urge to keen strikes, hold the phone case up to your ear and wail like it’s the day the music died. Strangers who see you weeping into a cell phone (case) will give you wide berth on the sidewalk. This prop is especially useful for people who like to scream when they cry. It’s much better to scream into your phone (case), “But what’s it all for? I gave them the best years of my life!” than to risk having shop owners trying to eject you from the premises.

3. Do get your brows waxed. This is good for when you’re on the verge of a big cry, but can’t get it out. Head over to a local nail salon. As a non-English-speaking Vietnamese woman named Tammi plucks your brows, the pain will trigger a flood of tears. Tammi will feel terrible, but explain, “It’s not your fault. It’s just that I gave them the best years of my life, and also? You’re tweezing the skin off my forehead.” Later if you have to explain why you are sobbing on the corner of LaSalle and Lake Street, you can point to your eyebrows. “Just got plucked. Hurts like a mother fucker.”

4. Do lean. The best public crying posture is to face a brick building, raise your arms above your head as if you are being frisked by an officer of the law, and let your salty tears drench the dirty city sidewalk. This stance allows you to avoid eye contact and also stretch your deltoids.

5. Do bring Kleenex. Humanity is generally a caring lot. People are going to offer you crumb-dusted tissues pulled from the bottom of their NPR tote bags. Unless you want to blow your nose into a tissue of unknown provenance, you should have your own. If you see someone reaching into her in her bag, or God forbid, into his trouser pocket to hand you a hanky, then wave your travel-size package of tissues and assure them, “I’m good. Thanks.”

6. Don’t compete with panhandlers. If you are public crying in a large urban city, be respectful of the people who are working and living on the streets. Don’t encroach on a homeless person’s turf or the turf of those who are advocating for the poor. This gets tricky during the holidays, a prime season for taking emotions to the streets, because you can’t ever cry in front of Target because SALVATION ARMY.

7. Don’t cry in an Ann Taylor Loft dressing room. You don’t want a twenty-something shop girl stopping by every three seconds to check on you, asking if you want to open an Ann Taylor Loft credit card in order to save extra 10% today. A better retail option for losing your shit is H&M because the music is so loud no one would hear you even if you were bludgeoned to death with a spiked bat.

8. Don’t duck into the foyer of a capital assessment management office building. The security guards tend to be skittish about full-grown women convulsing in spasms of grief. They tend to want to keep the business of mentally falling into shambles far away from the business of making billions of dollars for capital asset managers.

9. Don’t wander over by your therapist’s building, hoping you’ll catch him coming or going. If you “happen” to bump into him, he may charge you for his time, or, if he’s the nervous sort, he may file charges against you. Better to wander anonymously. Perhaps stroll by the local movie house so if you spot someone (say, Tom from accounting who was recently promoted to VP, Business Development), you can tell him you just saw a double feature, Terms of Endearment and Steele Magnolias.

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Grandma Would Have Loved The Hula Hoops

I walked half a mile across the steaming asphalt parking lot because I decided it was time. I had to see for myself what the hell was in those stores. As I reached for the door, I saw foam pool noodles, sun visors, and cheap Tupperware jammed into bins by the door.

 

Heaven on Earth. Why did I wait so long?

 

Once inside, I was unable to keep from touching every.single.thing. The glittery hula hoops were so alluring that I grabbed two and hung them from my neck. “These are going home with me,” I said, as if someone had just challenged my claim to them.

 

Dollar World.  Its treasures beckoned me, shoved as they were on racks with alarming randomness. I picked up a number 5 candle for Sadie’s upcoming birthday celebration. Naturally, it was hanging right next to a colander and a package of disinfectant wipes.

 

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Seriously. This place was actually better than heaven. It’s more like a calorie-free Dunkin Donuts or a Costco with that sells single rolls of toilet paper.

 

Dollar World, I think I love you. Said that out loud too.

 

It was all shits and giggles until I got to what could loosely be described as the “hair care” aisle. I didn’t realize that giant pink foam rollers were still a thing. I hadn’t laid eyes on them since sixth grade. But there they were: two five-foot stuffed racks announcing their continued existence. You can’t convince me it was a “coincidence” that Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survived started at that exact moment.

 

I dropped all the shit I was carrying, dusted off a twelve-roller set of the bigger black ones with the fuzzy, Velcro-like stuff on the outside. Just like my Grandma’s.  I didn’t need them any more than the ceramic hippo vase or the nude panty hose, but I wanted those rollers. An homage to my Grandma.

 

Nobody would love Dollar World more than she would have. She who never met a garage sale she wouldn’t pull over for or a thrift store she wouldn’t stroll into to peruse the dusty piles used men’s dress shoes—even after my Grandpa died. Sure, she’d love my kids—especially Sadie’s habit of breaking into song and the way Simon scrunches up his face when he’s playing ninja. (The Jewish thing might elicit a few vague judgments-disguised-as-questions, but she loved me and I was Catholic, which was almost as bad as being Jewish to her southern Baptist mind.) But she’d really, really love Dollar World.

By the time I dumped my haul on the counter, I felt that jittery I’m-about-to-cry tremor.  Thank god the teenaged clerk distracted me by trying to stuff my hula hoops into a bag better suited for a pack of gum or a hot wheel (both of which I bought).

It was hard to tell if the emotion was coming from that place in me that loves a bargain and plastic bags full of cheap shit, or the part of me that misses my Grandma and wishes we could split a piece of Big Red gum.  Hell, it was both.  Not sure how different those are sometimes.

Back at my car, I scrolled through my iPod to find the perfect music for the ride home. I floored the gas and cruised home with the sun roof open, How Great Thou Art on repeat.

Man, she would have really loved those hula hoops.

This One’s For Outlaw Mama

Cue tears of longing

It had been a long time since I lost my shit on public transportation. But I had on my big sunglasses and decided that my train car was just full enough to give me the requisite dose of anonymity.

From behind my shades, I saw a group of teenaged boys passing around an iPod so each could take a turn listening to a song that made them smirk. I wondered if it was LMFAO.  A girl with a pierced nose saw me wipe away a runaway tear.

I didn’t care.

Once that first tear slid down my cheek, I knew I would cry all the way downtown– through all six train stops until I got where I was going.  I stood in the back of the very last car letting each bubble of grief rise up and spill out of me.

When the train stalled at the Chicago stop, I was crying hard enough to need to blow  my nose. “Atta girl, let it out.”  I was being so nice to myself, and it was making me cry even harder. As the train sputtered and lurched on its way out of the station, I softened my knees so my body could move easily with the jolts. I leaned in to each curve and bend.  The more I softened, the harder I cried.

I cried because I am stuck, and I am searching.  And, I haven’t found “it” yet– that place that’s my own.  The place where I don’t have to share one fucking thing.  With anyone.  My friends. My kids. My husband. You.  The place where I get to unpack my own toys and make my own mess.  The place where I get to truly exhale, unhook my bra and slouch while eating crunchy, fatty potato chips straight from the bag– pausing only to lick the cheesy, salty residue from my fingers. I am thinking Doritos.

The space is emotional. That’s obvious, right?

I am not searching for this just because I am a mother, though mothers do have a reputation for struggling to find “their own space.”  I am searching for this because it’s worth finding, and it so happens I also have children.

I am looking for the place where there is only me.  There’s no audience to woo, no followers to attract, no competition, no sisters, no parents, no kids, no therapists.  There is no relentless chasing– of Facebook or Twitter or Freshly Pressed or Huffington Post. There are no comments to monitor or to which I must respond.

There is no one to please, because it’s just me.  And I don’t have to please myself.  That’s the great thing about having a relationship with myself: I decided long ago I wasn’t going to bring my everyday bullshit into my relationship with myself.  Because the relationship has to be a refuge from all of that. Otherwise, why bother?

Some posts are for you.  Some are for laughs.  Some are for contests or attention.  Some are for the people I imagine never believed in me or hope I fail even a little bit.  Some are for my idealized version of myself.

And some posts are just for me.

This is one of those.