Going the other way

Crying is something to be taken seriously

I just got home, and during the drive, I saw a woman crying.

She looked about my age with dark eyes, black hair, a face splotched with red, arms long and pale. She was wearing a necklace, I think, though it was too hard to tell as she turned left in front of me, and drove her old Ford Tempo down the street.

This kind of thing is strange because, for a second, I felt my nerves wring my stomach like a wet towel. For a second, I wanted to swerve into the intersection, turn as hard and tight as I could, and go follow her to wherever she was going. I wanted to hear what was wrong. I wanted to help.

That hasn’t ever happened to me before. Other people’s problems were other people’s problems. I might have felt sad, but never with such force, never with an urgency that made me want to slam on the brakes and try to fix what was wrong. I didn’t care if it was that her boyfriend broke up with her, that her grandmother died, or that they didn’t have her favorite flavored syrup at Starbucks- I wanted to make it better.

Is this emotional growth? Or does it make you ask yourself, why do I care about a complete stranger? What does it mean that I can feel empathy for a woman crying in a moving car, but can’t ask about my friend’s dying mother and see if there is anything I can do? What makes me want to help someone driving the other way on route 72, when I have trouble telling my family that I love them?

I’ve never been comfortable with crying; when I see it in movies or on television, especially when it’s joking, I feel a little sick. Crying is something to be taken seriously, whoever’s doing it, whyever they felt the need. I want to be better at confronting emotion, in myself and in others. Even if I’ll never see them again.

Wherever you are, Miss, I hope you got to where you were going safely. I hope you aren’t crying anymore.

Article © 2005 by Sean Woznicki