Keep crying and I’ll give you something to cry about.
Whatever. I cried anyway.
I was that kid. I was that teenager. I am that adult. I tend to cry.
I cry when I’m microwaving an Entenmann’s glazed honey bun — it reminds me of high school, of my grandmother being young and mean, of thinking I knew my mom well when I didn’t, of distrusting my stepfather who I now trust with my life, and of my sister who I still shared a room with, and who knew every tiny thing about me. She doesn’t know every tiny thing about me now.
I eat my honey bun standing up in front of the microwave, slicing it with the side of the fork. Tongue all sugar-burnt, and calories flourishing, I cry. I wipe my face. I take my ass to the gym.
“Every once in a while, everyone needs a ‘good cry’.”
But that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that crying for me is as regular as smiling. I don’t reserve tears. Reserve them for what? Tears stay tightening my throat. The corners of my eyes stay damp, stay weakening my liner.
I look up, I blink — like that stops water from pooling at my bottom lids. My lips come together in a soft purse. Head in a tilt. Open palm over my mouth. I have my sentences handy: You know me — here I go. Why am I so emo? Ridiculous. Pass me a Kleenex right quick.
All this is in the reception of something good, or for me, in particular. It’s a childhood habit, to be jolted when things go well. I had a weird upbringing. But it’s mine.
And such that it was, I don’t waste my tears too tough on sorrow. In sadness, I’m angry. In anger, I’m tamping down fight — or mapping flight. In mourning, I am drenched and ugly and suspicious and resistant to touch or consolation. That’s not “crying” to me. Those aren’t tears.
That’s falling out. That’s spit at the corners of your mouth, eyelashes stuck together, heaving and moaning and vomiting what folks have given you to eat because you should have “something.” I don’t want something. I want what isn’t sickness and evil and departure. Jesus, who would call that crying? That’s melting and leaking and trying not to die.
I rarely tie tears to duplicity and disappointment. Again, a tradition of my youth. When confronted with a new betrayal, I’m quick to stack the offense next to other offenses, to measure it against the time a teacher lied about me to my mother, to the boyfriend who boned a girl in my guest bedroom, to the boss who played my misplaced gratitude for laughs, to the thieves who stole the hand-written diary from my 17th year. Done stacking, I think of ways I’ve acted. Just the years between age 19 and 24 are enough to make me ill with the regret I always say I don’t have any of.
So I don’t cry.
Unless it’s honey buns, or my niece’s sixth-grade graduation, or my friend — who is my true friend — on her finest day. Unless it’s my husband walking toward me at an airport, or down a ferry’s ramp. Unless it’s my own birthday candles. Unless.
Cry for what?
Somebody might give me something to cry about.