As a general rule, I try not to cry in public all that often.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ve shed a few crocodile tears in my day to get what I want (what self-respecting girl hasn’t?), but I try not to make this a regular thing. Not only does it lose its effect with frequent use, I’m also just a really, really ugly crier.
Seriously. You know those girls you see crying on TV, looking all cute and heartbreaking?
Yeah, I’m nothing like that.
I’m more of the full on, can’t breathe, running snot variety.
I also cry so rarely that when it does happen, it’s like the Hoover Dam of emotion bursting within me, releasing a whole year’s worth of pent-up frustration and anxiety.
All this is to say that when I have an emotional breakdown, I prefer to do it in the comfort of my own home, in my oldest sweatpants, with a full container of Haagen Dazs.
Unfortunately, however, you can’t always choose where you’re going to unleash the Ugly Cry – something I learned last week when I found myself openly sobbing into the arms of a middle-aged flight attendant in an airport bathroom.
How did I end up in such a predicament you might ask? Well, let’s start from the beginning.
Last weekend, my mom flew in from Nova Scotia to visit me. (And boy, were her arms were tired!) It was her first time visiting me in Toronto so I was really excited for her to clean my apartment see where I live and show her around the city.
We had a great few days flaneuring around and pretending we were fancier than we were:
But all good things must come to an end, and soon it came time for us to say goodbye- something I’ve never been very good at. As a form of coping, I typically spend the last day of any trip either picking fights or acting like a complete asshole in an effort to push everyone away and make things easier when I leave. (I know. It’s really mature)
Anyway, I could feel myself starting to get agitated a few hours before she was scheduled to depart. I said approximately 5 words to her the entire ferry ride to the Toronto Island airport, spending our last minutes together instagramming pictures of the city skyline.
I continued this immature little performance until we parted at the security gate. I tried not to make eye contact as I hugged her goodbye, but I saw the tears welling up in her eyes. Well, guys, that was all it took. I felt a lump the size of a baseball form in my throat, and hot tears burned the backs of my eyes.
I managed to wait until she was out of sight before bursting into uncontrollable sobs right there at the gate. Through clouded vision, I somehow found my way to the bathroom, where I locked myself in a stall and tried to regain my composure. “Think happy thoughts” I told myself. “Froyo. MAC Makeup. Pinot Grigio. Your PVR”. Eventually I calmed down enough to leave the stall, but then broke down a second time when I caught sight of myself in the bathroom mirror. Red blotches covered my face and spread down my neck like ivy, and on the front of my shirt were two, distinct wet patches that suggested I had recently been lactating. The liquid eyeliner and mascara I had meticulously applied earlier that day now formed two, thick black rings around my eyes, making me resemble a very sad, overgrown raccoon.
I was blowing my nose loudly when I heard a voice ask, “are you ok?” I turned to see a middle aged Porter flight attendant with a look of concern on her face.
“Ye-aaaah” I said, waveringly. “I’m ok”
“Did you just say goodbye to someone?” she asked, sympathetically.
“Yeah,” I sniffed, “Mmmmmm-y mom”
“Aw,” she said, “Where was she off to?”
“Halifax,” I said
“That’s far away,” she said
“I know,” I sobbed.
“Do you want a hug?” she asked.
I nodded slowly, and moved towards her waiting arms. I didn’t even care how many people were around, all I knew was that I was jonesing for a hug, and this b*tch was holding.
“Aww it’s ok,” she said, as she gently patted me on the back. “You guys can talk on the phone?”
“But ittttsss not the sameeee” I stuttered
“What about skype?” she said “There’s always skype!”
“She’s not technologically inclined!!” I wailed.
“Well, it’ll still be ok” she repeated, clearly running out of things to say at this point.
Realizing I was probably overstaying my hug welcome, I straightened out my shirt and reluctantly pulled myself away. “Well I should go now,” I said, “Thanks”.
“No problem” she said, as I made my way towards the door, “Stay strong!”
I put my oversize sunglasses on and boarded the ferry, where I continued to bawl pretty much the entire time. At first I was embarrassed to be seen in public this way, but then I thought of what a great Craigslist Missed Connection it would be if some hot guy happened to see me.
You: Crying on the ferry alone.
Me: Wishing I could make you smile.
Anyway, this didn’t result in a missed connection (I checked), so instead, I’ve chosen to make this post my own missed connection of sorts. I never caught the name of the flight attendant who so benevolently offered up her words (and arms) of encouragement to me that day, but to her, I’d like to say thank you. Thank you for being awesome, and for restoring my faith in humanity. And if any of you should ever find yourselves at the mercy of the ugly cry in a public bathroom, I pray it is into the arms of such a kindly stranger.