Needless to say, I don’t like crying. I never have. The feeling of utter vulnerability is completely unappealing to me. And yet when a powerful moment comes along that brings me to tears, sometimes I hit repeat and hold onto it. Perhaps I hold on sometimes because these moments are few and far between for me.
The truth is that I’m much better at NOT crying. I’ve learned to cry when I’m alone. I’ve learned how to keep my emotions in check and only show the stiff upper lip. There is no instance I can point to that caused this to be the way I handle emotion. There is no tragic instance that dried up all future tears or told me that crying is weakness. It’s just how I feel.
So then, why is The Giving Tree my favorite children’s book? Why do I watch episodes of The Office (Niagra: Part 2, Goodbye Michael and Garage Sale) that I know will make me cry? Why did I create an entire playlist on Spotify called “Sometimes I Cry?” Why on Earth did I listen to “It’s Quiet Uptown” from Hamilton the Musical on repeat at least 12 times in a row, bringing on hard core, inevitable tears while writing this very blog post? (Fair warning, if you choose to go listen to “It’s Quiet Uptown” do so at your own tearful risk. It is hauntingly beautiful!!) I listened to that track more than any other track on the album and yet it was the only one that made me cry. Crying…the thing I hate doing. Why would these things that bring tears become my favorites? It doesn’t make any sense at all.
My friend, Chelsea, always used to tell me, “Crying is not a weakness, Lizzie. Crying washes the windows of our souls. And sometimes we just need those windows washed.”
Perhaps that’s why these things that make me cry become my favorites. Perhaps the powerful act of allowing my proverbial “windows” to be washed is far more meaningful and memorable than so many other moments that fly by without being marked. Because I can tell you the times I’ve cried. I can tell you about the times I’ve fallen apart. I can tell you about the time at church when I ran for a place away from everyone to cry and found a friend who sat by me and didn’t say a word. Or the time in my basement apartment in New York, when I felt so alone and let myself cry and was reminded that God was there with me, even when no one else physically was.
Chelsea always encouraged me to wash my windows, but I would always respond, “No Chelsea, crying is so stupid. I’ll cry when I’m home…alone. Where no one can see. It’s better that way.”
Plus, I hate washing my soul windows because when I cry I tend look more like James Van Der Beek crying…
When I wish I could look more like Johnny Depp and his gentle, tear-streaked cry face…
Or maybe Jensen Ackles’ beautiful, beautiful cry face…
But at the end of the day, I want to write things that evoke powerful emotion. (Ugly cry face or not!) I want to connect with you, reader! I want you to be able to look through my windows, not wonder what’s inside this darkened building. I can’t help but feel that until I allow those windows to get cleaned more often, then whatever emotional blog posts I can give will tinged with an air of falsehood. And that is NOT what I want. So I listen again to “It’s Quiet Uptown” and I wash those windows clean. Cleaner than they’ve ever been, maybe. Cleaner than they’ll ever be again…I hope not. I’ve never been good at deep cleaning! But I am a fast learner!