I don't think of myself as a crier. I’m a shed one and move on kind of chick. In my head, I don't have time for tears.
In reality, I cry all of the time. I’m not a stoic, single-tear crier. I’m not a sobber either. I’m more of a lip-trembly, red-nosed, chin-up-to-keep-the-tears-and-snot-in, but-you’re-not-fooling-anyone kind of crier.
My confused self-image around crying is not unlike my inability to recognize my period is coming. After 17 years of a very regular cycle, every month, like clockwork really--my period is still a complete and utter mystery to me. It doesn’t matter how many times the tears have come for no reason, or how many times I have spent two hours getting dressed and undressed because suddenly all clothing feels like a prison, or how many times I have had the urge to strangle the life out of the civilian sitting next to me eating potato chips...I am unable to put two and two together. Every time, after days of this emotional anarchy, my period comes, and my response is “Already???”
So there I was yesterday, my chin up in the backseat of the family Prius, wondering what all this emotion was about. I’m not some blubbering idiot. I have said goodbye to my parents and goodbye to California many times since moving to New York, and have spent the majority of my young adult years living away from home. What was this wetness happening around my eyeballs? Get it together! What was it about this goodbye that felt so hard?
As I walked across Nostrand Ave into our corner bodega today, the humid summer sun overhead, I laughed with the usual suspects who are always standing around in there, passing the time and taking advantage of the free TV and air conditioning. I shouted at a friend passing by on his bike as I left, and cursed at the uneven piece of sidewalk that I trip on pretty much every time I walk home. I smiled to myself, enjoying the symphony of hip-hop, honking, laughter and yelling that fills Bedford Stuyvesant. And then it struck me, as I rushed upstairs to pet my cats, that I was home.
When we moved here, I said I would never be a New Yorker. It’s been three years, and I still feel that way. California runs deep. I love the New Yorker’s disdain for bullshit, but I will always err on the side of a-little-too-nice. I am snobby about Mexican food, I overthink everything, I am astounded by this city's lack of regard for emergency vehicles, and I drive a Prius. I love the chaos and complex human texture of this city, but the golden hills and beaches, smell of pine and High Sierras are in my blood.
So there I was, one week ago, sitting among pines with my dad in Tuolumne Meadows after a morning of climbing, and I thought to myself, “This is home.” Two nights ago, as the sun set, casting gold and blue across my parents' living room, and I rushed to find my camera, I thought, “I am home.” When I stuck my toes in the Pacific Ocean that morning, a thick bank of fog blurring the line between sea and sky, I was at home. And here, in the land of rattly subway cars, brick buildings, and endless hopes and dreams, I am also home. And they sit side by side, in jumbled and confused juxtaposition inside of me.
As the plane's wheels trembled below, I lowered my chin, closed my eyes and let the tears fall.