Yesterday I finished reading Holly Bourne's The Places I've Cried in Public.
I have read a few others by Holly Bourne, It Only Happens in the Movies, Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes?, and How Do You Like Me Now? are all wonderful, and each brought tears and smiles to my face in their own ways. The Places I've Cried in Public is different for me, so much so I feel compelled to tell somebody about it. If you take nothing else away from this post and want to stop reading this now, please just go and read it. It's a book that I never knew I needed until it was here.
As you might remember from a comic I drew a couple of years ago, crying is not an alien concept to me.
Quietly. Loudly. Neatly. Messily. Just-a-bit. Floods. Three minutes. Three days.
Just to clarify, I'm still talking about crying.
The point is, I know how to do this thing, and it's a thing I'm quite happy to talk about and share with other people. I think it brings people closer together if we remind each other that we are all just human after all. That crying serves a normal, human purpose. That crying is good for us. We all know this stuff now, and it's not going to be news to you. But despite my superior tear-producing powers, it's something I have always preferred never to demonstrate.
Blinking rapidly. Trying to feel numb. Compartmentalising. Looking down. Looking up. Looking at anything to avoid making eye contact. Avoiding hugs. Gritted teeth.
Classic, "I'm not going to cry in public" moves.
If that fails, push all the tears into your hair. Get out a tissue and blow your nose, "I've got a cold starting". "I've just got something in my eye". "Just resting my eyes".
You've seen and heard and done it all before.
Crying in public is always something I've skirted around. I've cried in supermarkets, cried in restaurants and cafes, cried in a park, cried on the way to work, cried on the way home from work, cried in an Uber, cried on the bus, cried in public toilets, cried in the office. I got away with them all, because we all learn how to hide it so well.
The most recent time I cried in public was when I went for a little tea break yesterday and decided to finish The Places I've Cried in Public, which I had been dreaming about since I started reading it. I was sitting in a very quiet and empty cafe, my back to the rest of the chairs, very quietly letting all the tears out as I hurried through the remaining pages. It felt so important that I reach the end, that I let it all out. Common Sense might ask, "why not wait until you got home?" or "why read it at all?" and the answer is that I physically had to finish it there and then or I felt I would implode.
Can't help but smile a little bit now, because my inner voice commented, "dramatic, much?" as I wrote it down. Dramatic, indeed, reader. Dramatic, indeed.
The night before this, I was three quarters of the way through the book, crying privately this time, and ever since then it has has felt like a crutch, but also like a weight on me at the same time. The only way to describe this book is as a guttaral sob that you absolutely need to have before you can get back up again and carry on.
I'm sorry to every single person who reads this book and connects with it the way I do, because then I'll know that you have gone through the same experience. Reading it was physically, agonisingly painful, but I needed to know if Amelie was going to be alright in the end, because I was Amelie once, and I'm still waiting to see if I'll be alright in the end.
I almost hope that this book is boring, unrelatable or nonsense to you, because then I will know that you have never experienced that pain. I also hope a little bit that you do think it's all a bit over-dramatic, because then I can pretend it's not all that serious either. I started writing this post with the intention of getting things off my chest, talking about the things I've started to address with a counsellor, admit the real truths of events that I have been through. But I don't think I need to do that just yet.
Knowing others might find this book and feel the hope and relief that comes from escaping a "Reese" is enough.
Knowing that I am not at fault for ending up where I did is enough.
Knowing for real that I am not alone, because Holly Bourne came along and wrote my story for me so that I wouldn't have to do it, is enough.
Stay safe, saplings x