24 April 2011

on crying in public

It takes a certain amount of desperation to cry in public. Crying in public requires that the crier in question hit rock bottom. Unfortunately for me, I reached that point today.

As you may know, today is Easter Sunday. Happy Easter!

Today was the first time I had to go to mass alone on Easter Sunday. I didn’t think it would be that big a deal, but for some reason, when I walked through the door and saw a bunch of people dressed in gaudy pastels, my heart broke. Not in the ostentatious, bursting into tears, messy way. Rather, seeing all these color-coordinated happy families reminded me that I was alone, and caused a slow implosion.

At first, I was just sad. I missed my family. I kept my composure and pretended to smile when the people next to me tried to start a friendly conversation. I don’t think I was as dazzling a conversationalist as I could have been, but I managed nonetheless.

Then, the girl sitting next to me started singing. Loudly. I think it’s great when people have the self-confidence to sing in public. But when the person is tone deaf, it becomes a little bit harder to keep a straight face. I found myself twisting my mouth into a contorted half-smile because, while I am a horrible person, I would not be able to laugh and forgive myself. So I kept it in. But then the sadness sunk in deeper when I realized there was no one around me to share my experience. There was no one to whom I could say later, “That girl had quite a voice.” Yes, I realize that I am mean, but today not only was I mean, but I was also alone. Around this time, my eyes started to water. The look on my face was probably a mix of extreme sadness and shock. I had not expected to have such a strong reaction to something so trivial.

Then during the homily, someone started snoring. Loudly. Again, it took all of my self-control not to laugh. Because of the high ceilings, the acoustics were impeccable. Unfortunately for the sleeping person, it meant that each inhalation resonated to the point where everyone was craning their necks trying to find the offending sleeper. Parents were scolding their children to stop laughing while trying not to laugh themselves. I stood there, blinking rapidly to keep the tears from running down my cheeks.

I barely made it outside the church before I succumbed to my overwhelming flood of emotions. That was easily the most emo sentence I have ever typed, and I will do my best never to do something like that again.

But yes, I cried, blubbering to my mom on the phone while speed-walking back to my dorm. At that point, it didn’t even matter that there were families holding hands around me. I didn’t care that some of my classmates were standing around with their significant others. I barely even saw the old couples looking at me with concern. All I wanted to do was cry. I know that I looked like a walking disaster and there was no hope of salvaging whatever dignity I had left.

I know that I’m going to be by myself in a foreign country in a matter of months. I will have to celebrate my birthday away from home for the first time. I’m going to have Thanksgiving by myself. There’s no way of knowing how I’ll react to reaching these milestones, but when the time comes, I will be better prepared. At least next time I’ll know that crying in public is a definite possibility.

Sorry for being so bleak. Enjoy Easter with people you love.


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