Three things you should know about me before I start this story:
1. I always cry when I get dropped off at the airport. Ask the Super Shuttle driver who last drove me to Dulles. Sorry about that, Nate.
2. If I start crying, I usually have to cry myself out before I can stop. Sometimes this takes 10 minutes, sometimes it takes 10 hours.
3. When people try to make me feel better about crying, I cry more. It’s .. just .. pure physics.
By the time I walked into the Syracuse airport, I had let four tears happen. They were big, they were dramatic, and, I was pretty sure, had left a gross dark splotch on the shoulder of my very understanding boyfriend’s sweater. The secret to controlling your crying is to AVOID SOBBING. One sob gets out and it’s all over. Four tears in public were bad enough. Think of what the paparazzi would spew: “Crazy Blonde on the Verge of Mental Breakdown;” “Lunatic on Her Way To Rehab;” “Teen Pop Sensation Makes Scene at Airport: PREGNANT WITH ALIENS.” (What?! Don’t give me that look, my pop music is surprisingly popular in Sweden.)
So I let the four tears be and swallowed back the huge I’m-a-toddler-who-missed-her-nap sob that was prickling at the back of my throat.
That is, until:
“Hello, miss, could I see your I.D.?”
Or more like a waterwork. One sob, but that’s all it takes to break the seal.
I managed to hand my boarding pass and driver’s license over to the stunned, middle-aged woman who had obviously mistaken me for a grown-up. She kindly pushed through my Big Sob and pretended like I hadn’t just sprayed mucus all over her workstation.
“Wow, Los Angeles. You have a heck of a long flight ahead of you.” She chuckled. “Did you bring a book?”
I held my breath for a solid thirty seconds. I could feel the line growing behind me.
“Yes,” I squeaked, trying to forget that books remind me of crying.
“Woah-kay, honey,” the woman said, probably thinking she should have worn her rain-poncho to work. “You take care of yourself.”
I walked passed her to security. I took a deep breath. There. THERE — that had been my one embarrassing moment of the day. I focused on taking my shoes off and re-organizing the entire cart of security bins I knocked over in the process.
Ohnoohnoohnoohno, please don’t talk to me, I thought, knowing my sob seal was still flapping wide open and the next person who talked to me was a potential victim of a floodgate malfunction.
“Miss? Is this your bag of liquids?” asked the perfectly innocent chubby-faced man behind the X-Ray machine. For a moment, I wondered if by “bag of liquids,” he meant my face.
“Y-y-y-y-yes,” I blubbered. I tried to apologize, but one sob at a time is bad enough. The next phase is Crinkle Face, and NO ONE wants to see that. The security guard looked like he was going to barf.
“Okay, go ahead then, miss.”
I gathered my things on the other side of the checkpoint, vaguely wondering if my bag of liquids (as in, the ten pounds of makeup I stuff in a zip-lock bag in my carry-on) had broken a rule. Or been replaced with explosives. I figured someone would have tackled me by now if either of those things had happened, so I proceeded down the terminal, trying to wipe my face nonchalantly (and inwardly patting myself on the back for going for a no-eyeliner look that morning).
I thought about stopping in the loo, but I knew the sight of myself in the mirror would set me off again, as it does most days.
Instead, I trudged on. I bought some coffee. I regained composure. The threat of Sobs and Crinkle Face became less imminent. I even laughed at myself a little. But then I was scared to get the hiccups, so I cut that crap pretty much immediately.
I am pleased to report that I got on the plane with a dry face. I may have looked a little contorted during the take-off, but that’s because take-offs remind me of crying, so I really had to keep a lock down on my tear ducts. It looked like I was going to spend the next seven hours relatively cute.
Until I looked to the woman sitting next to me.
She was looking at her iPad, wiping her face, squelching snot out of her little nose, and getting red from holding her breath. I wanted to say something to console her, like, “Don’t worry, Snape is a good guy!” but I knew the rules of crying, and I didn’t want to make matters worse.
The only problem was, seeing other people cry … makes me cry. A lot.
Let’s just say that when the flight attendant came around to offer us drinks, she took one look at our tear-stained row and hightailed it. Thank goodness.
Because free beverages always remind me of crying.