In which I fall down and cry like a baby
I'm standing at the rocky edge of the land, staring out at the cold Atlantic Ocean, and I'm sobbing. I'm crying like a child: loudly, full-throttled, irrationally. I tell my husband that I'm fine, but that I just need to stand here and cry for awhile. He's known me long enough and well enough to understand, so he stands on a boulder somewhere behind me and lets me go.
There is salt everywhere here: in the tears streaming down my face, in the waves crashing on the rocks below me, in the misty air that dampens everything. Salt is a preservative, and right now my salty tears are preserving my sanity. Nothing horrible has happened in this moment. I simply fell down on a slick part of these New England rocks. But my side hurts, my pants and sweater are shellacked with strips of tar, and I broke the camera. The physical pain is bothersome and I know I'll have a big bruise, but that's not why I cry. I wail about the broken camera. Broken on our first day here! And I mourn for my ruined pants and go on and on about how I'd searched for pants like these for 10 years. It's nearly impossible to find the perfect pair of lightweight khaki pants that are perfect for traveling. Nearly impossible!
Mostly I wail about how stupid I was for stepping on that dark patch of sloping rock. I berate myself for being so stupid. So stupid! I say it over and over again, thinking that if I chastise myself enough I'll work through feeling so bad about it all and start to feel better. But that tired tactic never works; I should know that by now.
What works in moments like these is crying like a child. I'm old enough to know that I'm not really crying about the bruise or the busted camera or my soiled clothing or even my poor decision making. Those things are just surface annoyances that release the pressure valve so I can let the real emotions out.
In the end, I don't think too much about what the real emotions were. I cried and then I felt better. We went to the cry cleaner* and my clothes look brand new. My husband fiddled with the camera and it works. In the end, everything was okay.
*Edited to add this note: As Randi points out in the comments, I did write "cry cleaner" instead of "dry cleaner." I would like to say it was intentional, but it was really just an oh-so-appropriate slip, so I think I'll leave it.