It’s happening again. As I rush down the stairs I try not to look at the semi-worried, mostly curious faces. I skip a step, land awkwardly and keep going until I reach the nearest bathroom. I rush in and check to see if anyone is there, pick a stall and close the door behind me. I sink to the floor. I breathe in and let the tears fall.
This isn’t unusual. I cry a lot. Mostly in public. My emotions run wild like a stray dog, one that could be provoked at a second’s notice. No, I’m not on my period and no, it’s not just me being an emotional woman. I came out of the womb crying and for some reason I just never really stopped. And even though crying (in public) is looked down on, I’m okay with it. It’s part of who I am.
I’ve never been good at hiding my emotions, and as a high schooler, it’s gotten worse. As a student of East, you’ve probably seen me cry. It happens regularly and at any time. Perhaps it’s an overabundance of red marks on a test or maybe someone said something they didn’t really mean. Usually, the result is smudged makeup, blotchy skin and a few large snot stains on my sleeve. And some alarmed freshmen.
Over the past four years, my tears have marked my most vivid memories of high school. I remember sitting in J-1, eyes lined heavily and in a zebra-print sweater, not sure that I was good at anything. And I remember starting to cry when Tate handed back my first and only story that earned an A in the class, a personal column.
I remember going to Spain with the Choraliers and crying through every single song at our final concert. Even the happy spirituals, and even during “Shenandoah,” my least favorite song. And it was all just because of the deep connection I’d made with the country and with the music we were singing.
I remember crying while reading my senior letters and when my best friend read me the one I had given to her. I remember crying during almost every single personal column I’ve written for the Harbinger, or every blog that was pieced together with bits of my heart. And crying when I happened to read the comments on them. I remember when I went to San Francisco and Washington, D.C. for national journalism conventions, and bursting into tears at both when we got first place, and then fifth. Tears of happiness, tears of devastation.
And I remember crying when I got accepted to my dream school, Columbia College Chicago. And I cried when I got a letter from their Creative Nonfiction Writing department saying I was getting a scholarship just big enough to send me to the school. And I started to cry again when, after a month of agonizing over money, I was finally, 100 percent sure that I was getting to follow my dream. That I didn’t have to settle.
I’m proud to be emotional. I like my feelings. Words and events can hit me like a fist to the stomach and leave me gasping for air. But for some weird reason, I love it. I’ve gone through the past 18-and-a-half years a crier and I don’t want it to end. I hope that the world continues to bewilder and excite me. I hope to fall deeply in love with people whose flaws make them beautiful, just like I’ve done for the past four years. I hope to yell and cry and say things I regret and laugh at something stupid. Because that’s what life is.