Dear God, why do I watch Call The Midwife? It’s like ipecac for your tear ducts. I know this, but Netflix just added a new season, and here I am compulsively binge watching it and eye-barfing all over the place. They found the perfect formula: babies and mothers and selfless love and horrible things happening to good people and occasional miracles. Ugh, here it comes again.
Crying is so weird. That sudden rush of heat, first to my nose then my eyes, the feeling of fighting it and losing, the helplessness, the emotional cloudburst. The heaviness after, almost like post-coital exhaustion; my whole body and mind feeling wrung out. And then the world is new, the day breaking open again like the sky after a rainstorm. The simplicity emerges first: where I am and what’s around me. After that comes the complexity: the things I need to do, recent memories, issues; the invisible ink that scrawls over the world, telling the story only I can see. For a moment I can evaluate everything from a distance; reality in layers. I feel better now, the day ahead of me seems more manageable.
Maybe the real question is why don’t I love crying? If it winds up so positively, why do I resist it? Why hasn’t it become programmed into me Pavlov-style as desirable?
Once, as an 18-year-old wayfarer, I spent an incredibly intense three days alone in the redwoods, falling apart, crying my eyes out as a coastal rain storm rushed through the needled boughs above me. There was something about the wetness everywhere, the low clouds so thick that they barely hung in the sky, the web of tiny suspended droplets forced together through unbearable pressure until they collapsed to the earth in this heavy torrent, merging with it; my head so full of all my fragmented emotions and fears and burdens and all the things that had gone so wrong, forced together until tears poured out of me like there was no end. In that one, encapsulated, isolated place, for that time that was open to me as long as I was open to it, I gave in completely.
It changed me. I can’t explain how, only that the memory of it comes to me sometimes, this touchpoint. I remember the letting go, the unabashed grief, the sense that I didn’t need to be strong or justified or able to articulate. I didn’t need to protect myself, or protect anyone from my lack of control. I could just rain, just wail into the empty wind, just melt into the world around me, formless. When that final night passed and I woke to a crisp blue sky, my mind was clear for the first time I could remember, a deep and profound peace. I walked into town, coming suddenly face to face with two guys I knew from Chico. They asked what I was doing there, and I said nothing, that I was done. I asked why they were there, and said they didn’t know, maybe they came to take me home.
It almost seems impossible that it went that way, but when you’re young and poetic, you just believe in the moment, you find meaning in coincidence and make it real.