Places I've Cried in Public
Art by Kirsten Hemrich
Over spring break, I was at Panera with my parents when my mom said something that offended my overly sensitive nature and within minutes I was fully crying in the middle of the restaurant. I am not a pretty crier--there is a picture of me when I was young on Halloween where I was crying in my devil costume, and my face certainly matched my ensemble. A friend of my parents stopped to say hi in the midst of my breakdown, so I had to try to discreetly wipe my cheeks, put on a smile, and hope that my eyes weren’t too red as my parents introduced me to their friend. Funnily enough, I really wasn’t bothered about the crying as much as the fact that I had to interact with a stranger right in the middle.
When I watched the video of Emma Gonzalez giving her speech at the March for Our Lives I couldn’t stop crying over the reality of what happened that day in Parkland. Technically, I was in my room, so it wasn’t really in public, but I’m sure my roommates could hear me and I did tear up again when one of my professors brought it up in class. Soon after, the decision over the shooting of Alton Sterling was released, and this time I cried in a Starbucks as I recognized my own privilege and mourned the failure of others to do so. Most of the time my crying in public is for small things, but sometimes the state of the world is too overwhelming to not grab some tissues and let it out.
I saw a video on Sister Jean from Loyola Chicago in the NCAA Men’s Tournament and thought she was the cutest thing in the world, so I definitely teared up hearing about her filling out scouting reports and giving hugs to the players after every game. I was reminded of a video about a women’s basketball team that requires you to be at least 80 and went on a hunt to find it to make myself cry just a little more. I have two lovely grandmothers but I would be willing to adopt any of those women as a third in a heartbeat.
Literally back at the same Panera with my parents, I cried again. We had to talk about the reasons for all the new overwhelming anxiety I was experiencing, anxiety that I went home to hopefully get relief from. I could only avoid reality for so long. Three young teenage girls watched me, but I didn’t care because I didn’t have to engage in social niceties--I relished the comfort of complete strangers who won’t do more than look at me for a lingering moment to try and figure out why I’m using scratchy napkins to wipe away tears.
I had to reread Their Eyes Were Watching God for class, and I was teary-eyed intermittently throughout. It is one of my favorite books, and I am always moved by the language and the emotion in it. I was reading in the library, and honestly crying in the library is a common occurrence for me, so that doesn’t faze me much. If you don’t come out of college with the ability to be unfazed by crying in the library and to ignore other people crying, then I need to know your tips for managing stress. In this case I was moved by the story, but often I start crying in the library when I realize I do not know half of the things I need to for a midterm exam or when I have to completely start over on a 12-page essay.
Actually, whenever I write about myself I have a tendency to tear up. So feel free to picture me with tears in my eyes writing all of the above. Reflecting on my past or on my inner self has a tendency to make me cry out of an instinctual reaction more than anything else, which has forced me to choke back tears many a time. A lot of times, when I know I’m going to cry in this type of situation I tell whoever I’m talking to that I’m going to cry to color my response with a sense of control.
Crying is so cathartic for me, and sometimes I’ll even try to make myself cry just to feel a little better afterwards and to get some emotion out of my body. I also often cry without intending to, and try to discreetly wipe away tears before I see someone I know. If you can’t tell, I cry pretty easily. And I definitely don’t think that that’s a bad thing.