Here is a life lesson on how to cry alone in public. I learned well and early how it goes. At first, you are a child, and your cries are alarms to all the world’s troubles. And the world cares, they really do.
You grow older, and the sky loses its curve at the horizon. It becomes flat and sometimes you forget to look up like you used to. In the same way that you no longer look up to meet the faces of adults. That is when you learn how to swallow sadness.
When it wells up in your chest as it used to as a child, and threatens to erupt in volcanic tears. Burning the inner corners of your eyes. You do not let them flow. There is a time and place for everything.
Pay attention to the lump welling up inside your chest. As it edges upwards to your throat. Leaving in its track nothing but burning agony. You must gulp down, hard. It may feel like how I sometimes imagine it feels to swallow an apple whole.
Or giving birth in reverse, shoving the little human head back inside the vagina it just ripped out of. Your face might twitch. The corners of your mouth, where the smiles and frowns are made. May force the rest of your mouth to make unidentifiable expressions.
A film of delicate tears may form a lens over the front of your eyes. The first drop from an overfilled semi-circle might spill over. That is when you must dash out. For the door, for your room, for the bathroom, to cry alone.
For the distance where no curious eyes will find yours. Hold your breath until you suffocate, until you are safe. That is when you may let them fall. Let all parts of your face twitch as they may.
Grotesque as you may look. The hard apple lodged somewhere in your chest will be dissolving like aspirin in water. Let the saltwater run up and out of yours. Your nose, your eyes. The groans leaving your throat are okay too, burp them out. Cry.
And then, when the pressure on your chest has all but disappeared. Your palms must already have been in close proximity to your face. The smaller fingers must find the corners of your eyes to stop the flow.
All the tips of your fingers must rub out all wetness like an eraser to pencil drawings on paper. All traces of any meaning must be erased. The flow of tears creates a trail on each half of your face.
That trail must be flattened down like feet stomping down on a sandcastle. Your palms must massage out the memories of the skin on your face. Then walk out of your bedroom, the bathroom, the house. Come back into the world.
Immerse yourself in its activity. You are here now with your pain squirming inside you. A little worm writhing, waiting to be plucked out and acknowledged. Until another life lesson comes, so you may acknowledge your pain.