Sunday, December 11, 2005

When I Cry

I don't cry very often anymore. I tend to avoid things that might cause me to break down. I refuse to watch horse and dog movies, they're always tearjerkers. I don't listen to sad songs, and I really don't care much for books that don't have happy endings.

When I finally give in and cry, it's usually over some silly thing, the last drop in the bucket that finally makes the tears flow. I'm on the verge of it today, and, as usual, the reason is absurd.

I've been trying to find a good place nearby to get my hair done. I've had it cut a couple of times over the last 6 months, with poor results. And when you're hair looks crappy you feel crappy about yourself. Shallow but true.

I stopped by a salon on Friday to make inquiries, and I ended up making an appointment for this afternoon. I was hopeful as I left the house today for the short drive there. I had planned just what I wanter to say (the ladies reading this know that you have to be very specific, or disaster will most always ensue), and I was reviewing it in my mind as I parked the car.

I walked into the salon on the dot of 1:30, the appointed time. This is a newer salon, and small - just one chair. My heart sank when I saw that the stylist was at the sink washing someone's hair. Time to wait. The stylist gave me a distracted smile and a brief hello, then turned away. I thought perhaps she had just done someone's color and only had to blow her hair out - maybe a 10 minute wait. Not to be.

As I sat waiting, not much interested in the reading material, and entertained by rap music (which I don't like), I started to feel annoyed and sad. At 1:45, the stylist had cut just a layer or two of the other client's hair, and had not yet taken the time to say, "I'm running late. Would you like to come back in half an hour, or reschedule?" I should note that she took my phone number when I made the appointment, so she could also have called to tell me she was behind schedule.

The stylist did not acknowledge me at all after that one brief smile when I walked through the door. She did interact with her daughter, who came out of the back room. She said to her, in an it's-OK-if-you-don't-want-to voice, "I don't like this song. Why don't you put some Christmas music on, just for today?" The child mumbled, " I don't know what station plays Christmas music." And that was that. So there I sat, now 20 minutes into my scheduled appointment time, listening to music I don't like, waiting to be acknowledged. I left. I didn't say a word, I just left.

And now I'm on the brink of tears. Every frustrating, sad, annoying thing that has happened to me over the past year wants to escape. I guess I'm typing this in an attempt to stop it by fighting it head on, so if this is too long and dull for general consumption, I apologize. I'm maudlin today.

I sometimes cry when I'm angry, but the real gut-wrenching sobs are almost always about loss. My nephew's spinal injury due to an auto accident last January is a source of loss. This October marked the 20th anniversary of my father's death, a loss relived. I have two aging dogs, and I watch the older of them slow down more and more each day. We got her less than a month after our wedding 15 years ago. She was 6 months old at the time.

Big changes at work mean that I will have a much longer drive to the office each day, and I won't be able to come home for lunch. This is a loss, too - a loss of time with my husband and my aging pets, and a loss of the quiet respite of lunch at home - the only thing that got me through some of the more difficult days over the last few years. I know that some of you already have a long commute to work, and I know that not many people get to go home for lunch. I don't feel entitled to these things, and I'm not complaining, I'm just sad about the change.

I guess more than anything I'm sad about the things that will never be again. Little M (my oldest dog) will never be energetic and sassy again. She doesn't see or hear too well, and she's slow and a bit confused. Mom and I will never shop the mall together again (something we loved to do in years past). She doesn't get around well enough to do so, and she has some health issues that keep her pretty close to home.

Some of the mall places Mom and I loved are gone, and some have changed forever, not for better. Wanamaker's was one such favorite place, now gone. The fountain with the Eagle at the entrance to the store is gona as well. I saw a picture of it recently, and I had an intense flashback. I could hear the water falling, and smell it too. I could feel the smooth, cool texture of the benches around the fountain. I could see the lights illuminating the water with the the copper glow at the bottom of the pennies thrown in for luck. Some of my pennies went into that fountain.

I could see myself walking through into Wanamakers, making my way to the Clinique counter with Mom the first time I bought grown-up makeup. I can almost taste the tea sandwiches they served in the Cranberry Room, with the world's best rice pudding for dessert. I can walk through each department in that store in my mind and see it fully stocked and decorated for the holidays.

Christmas will never be even close to what it was in my childhood. Most of the people who were part of it are gone, and the house where I grew up (scene of decades of holiday crimes) was sold long ago. I would host a holiday splash at my house, but no one would come: my family won't make the trip. So we'll have a deli tray, salads and meatballs at Mom's tiny place. I'm just plain tired of trying to cook a meal at home, transport it, and reheat it under adverse circumstances.

The gathering planned with my husband's family comes with a sense of dread because of one crazy family memeber. I have been saying that I will not go this year, but I see that it hurts my husband when I say it, so I might have to bite my tongue once again and suffer through it.

When I feel the incredible yearning for things past and gone, I realize that the Beatles song, "In My Life," is probably one of the most powerful love songs ever written. I could not have recognized this when I was young and surrounded by all that was beloved and familiar. Here are the words:


There are places I remember all my life,
Though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain.
All these places have their moments
Of lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I loved them all.

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these mem'ries lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
And I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them.
In my life I loved you more.

And I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them.

In my life I loved you more
In my life I loved you more


These words are so poignant to me now, with this unbidden flood of memories. I could go on and on (I know, I have already!) about places gone and people loved, but I guess I'm ready to snap out of it now (until I look in the mirror at my crappy hair). And see, I didn't cry after all. I really do have a good life, and I am blessed in so many ways. I just indulged in a bit of counting my woes instead of my blessings today. Tomorrow, back to normal, I promise.