I don’t cry often, or at least not as much as people assume I do.
Before I turned nine, my tears had no depth. I would cry because I couldn’t get the Barbie I wanted, or because I wasn’t allowed to eat the chocolate bar I craved. It was like I was standing on the shore, only to get my chubby feet wet. They would be salty tears of defiance, and yet, they were noticed more. No one ignores a little, pig-tailed girl with puffy, wet eyes and a solemn face. People would rush to my side to be my hero and save me from my sadness.
In the summer before my fourth grade year, I truly cried for the first time. I was curled in bed and the breeze made the leaves on the tree in my backyard hit against the window with a soft thump. A mountain of blankets weighed down on my crackling shell of a body. My mom was angry at me, and I was convinced that she undeniably hated me. Even though that wasn’t the case, my cheeks seemed tattooed with the streaks left behind from my crying fit, and they stayed like that until the morning.
Only after that night, did I realize that I can only sincerely cry alone and wrapped in many blankets. It’s an odd revelation, but one that I will testify to for the rest of my life.
When I sat in the first row at my mother’s funeral, I was the most anxious I had ever felt in my entire life. I felt like her closest family and friends were watching me like beady-eyed hawks. My legs were neatly crossed and my black, lace dress itched in ten different places. I tried to focus on my aunts and uncles speaking about their beloved sister, but could only think about the choir show I was missing. My attention only perked up when my sister went to speak.
She stood with her right foot tilted ever so slightly inward. You couldn’t see it because of the podium in front of her, but throughout my entire life she had done it whenever she was nervous. She greeted everyone with a half-smile and red eyes, and you could tell that she was trying to make my mother proud. My grandma was holding onto my skinny wrist like it was a treasured jewel. I looked down at her black shoes and fixated on the curvature at the front. Then I heard my name. My sister had water welling up in her eyes and looked to me to turn the attention away from her. I wiggled out of my grandmother’s grasp and walked reluctantly to the stand.
“Um, I miss my mom. Not a day goes by where I don’t miss her and I loved- uh, I mean love her always and for-” my voice cracked.
All of a sudden, tears gushed out of my eyes as if someone turned on a hose. I ran away from the microphone and sunk into my seat, and wished I could evaporate. Those tears weren’t of evident sadness, but rather were a scapegoat to leave the gaze of all those gloomy visages. After that moment, I wasn’t sad but embarrassed. It is such a normal thing to cry at a funeral, especially the funeral of a parent, but it was one of the most fake and shallow outbursts of emotion I have ever experienced.
After that, I couldn’t cry for months. My body was no longer capable of that type of emotional release. Whenever I do cry, it is of exasperation. A way to rid myself of pent-up frustration.
Some say that teenage girls cry about everything. When we break a nail or have a split end, it is as if the world is falling apart. Even when the world is crumbling around me, I pretend that I’m standing in a field of daisies, a defense mechanism I’ve created for dealing with my emotions in public.
And with all that said, people still think I cry all the time. But I guess that’s just what a girl’s gotta do.