Today, I am thinking about crying, but not because I am sad. I’m thinking about crying on a purely objective, philosophical, memory-induced basis. In the quieter hours of the day, I’ve been replaying the still shots from the many times I’ve cried in front of strangers. Yes. In front of strangers. Many times.
Anyone who knows me well can attest to the fact that while I might not cry that often, I cry VERY easily. I’ve often tried to reassure myself that it’s only because I am an incredibly well-balanced person emotionally (crying releases stress and toxins. I love this line from that article: “Emotional tears are common among people who see Bambi’s mother die or who suffer personal losses.” No kidding!).
But, honestly, I think it’s just because I hate being wrong. The common theme in my ridiculous flow of tears has to do with reprimand from figures in authority. Being the eldest child and homeschooled means that I can probably count on my fingers the number of times an adult was angry with me as a child; I lived to be the good girl, the front-row student, the teacher’s pet. In other words, I was the type of little girl that Guion hated in elementary school.
I still have a visceral memory of the first time a teacher rebuked me in front of a class. I was probably 8 or 9, and attending ballet class at Miss Vicki’s (which was a bunch of pink girls running in circles and trying to learn the positions). We were rehearsing some flower dance for our upcoming performance of “Beauty and the Beast,” and I spent my time during the rehearsal telling all of my fellow ballerinas what they were doing wrong. Finally, Miss Vicki had had it with me, and brought our merry little circle to a grinding halt. “ABBY. IF YOU TELL SOMEONE WHAT TO DO ONE MORE TIME, YOU ARE GOING HOME.” I fell apart. I started sobbing–weeping, like I would have done if someone had killed my sweet velvet-eared bunny in front of me. I sat in a corner for the rest of the lesson and was inconsolable, even when Mom came to get me. I don’t think I spoke for the duration of the year in that class. I was stone-faced during our actual performance, terrified into submission.
More recently? I’m not a wilted ballerina anymore, but I still cry at really stupid, inopportune moments when I’m in the wrong, such as in…
… News editing class. My professor stood over my chair and yelled at me for opening a file in the wrong directory. Tears welled up in my eyes, but did not actually fall. I looked upward and hoped that they would seep back into my eyeballs and that my classmates would not notice.
… The Denver Post newsroom. I missed a misspelling of the Chinese province (the “x” and the “i” were swapped) where the earthquakes during the summer of 2009 were wreaking havoc. My editing mentor caught it and yelled at me for missing something so elementary and critical. I listened to him, corrected my error, and then went into the bathroom and cried silently with my hand over my mouth. But it was midnight, and I missed Guion, so it might have been for other things, too.
… The Mecklenburg County Courthouse. Guion and I were going to get our marriage license. We were in the wrong building, and had to go through this intense security scan. My camera was in my purse, as it usually is, and the police officer grumbled at me to take it out and told me I could not reenter the building. Commence tears! Guion fixed it, though.
… The Charlottesville DMV. We barely made it there in time to get my new license and change my name, and then when we get to the counter, I realize I don’t have the proper paperwork to prove that we live in Charlottesville. The lady at the counter considers this as she’s holding my hand, admiring my wedding and engagement rings. She even called a coworker over to look at them. Meanwhile, I start to well up. Guion comes to the rescue again and dashes home to get the paperwork, and she decides to give me a ticket to wait anyway. I think the only reason she let me through was out of pity, and admiration for Mary Windley’s rings. Many thanks, Grandmother Tillman! I knew I could count on you.
… Our car, listening to NPR. OK, so this time I wasn’t in the wrong. But I cried yesterday in the car listening to this story about Davis Guggenheim’s documentary about inner-city kids trying to get into charter schools. The interviewer recounts this scene in the film about Daisy, the Los Angeles 5th-grader, going to the charter school lottery with her dad. Her dad tells her to cross her fingers, because he has a good feeling about it, and Daisy sits there for two hours, tightly crossing her fingers, hoping and praying for her future. I LOST IT.
Hope this post made you feel better about yourself. At least you’re not as pathetic as I am! But, that’s the way it is.
What about you? Do you cry? If so, why? If not, why?
(Also, according to this poll, one in five Americans believe Obama is a cactus.)