Soldiering on in Sadness

Here it comes: the breakdown we’ve all been waiting for. Let’s get started.

Emotional regulators: SHUT DOWN

Measured, controlled breathing: DISABLE

Rational thinking: OVERRIDE

Awareness of surroundings: DISABLE

Hysteria sequence: INITIATE

Public breakdown: COMMENCE

This was the breakdown of the century. People will write about it in history books. They will cite it in psychology tomes. We will reference it as a benchmark for embarrassing public meltdowns for eons to come.

It was the coup de grâce on a story that spanned the ages.

The scene was this: The tears. Oh the tears! They were everywhere, co-mingled with snot which was in, at this stage, the most physically improbable places. And then there was the cat shit. Yes, the cat shit. Kitten-size dollops of kitty poop paws, dotting the scene like a sponge paint party gone wrong, lending a new air of desperation to the breakdown on I-80. It would have been tragic enough without.

This was worse than it looks.

But I’ve been down, and I’ve been down this road before.

I’ve cried everywhere humans have made a mark on this earth. Bars, both discreetly in corners and overtly belly up. Restaurants, over smashed potatoes with cheddar and sour cream, in chicken noodle soup, and dangerously close to other people’s fries. The standard side order with tears? Wine. Wine of any kind. “Just give me your house wine,” I always managed to say through sobs. “Don’t mind me,” I’d follow up. “I’m just losing my shit.”

I soldier on with my sadness.

Planes, trains, automobiles – on the same day and in that order. Crying on an airplane is an awkward experience, particularly if you’ve ramped up your breakdown before takeoff. After all, the hallmarks of any good breakdown: 1) start early; 2) escalate quickly; 3) maintain momentum.

In an emotionally indulgent state, you tend to forget about the longevity of your experience on a flight – that being one surrounded by the same people and without the possibility of excusing yourself to another seat, another section, another row, another aircraft. The people you take off with are the people you land with, and they have the full picture of what’s going to happen when you order your third wine. “Please forgive me, I’m just losing my shit.” It’s awkward, yes.

But you soldier on with your sadness.

Walking down city streets in daylight, nightlight, streetlight. I’ve cried in any light that would take me and illuminate the tears. (They glisten while you groan.) Bystanders cast concerned looks and offer to help. (The help comes too late.) “No thank you, I’m just losing my shit.” And I cry unhappily on my way.

I must soldier on with this sadness.

Eventually, though, the crying subsides. The pillows carry the burden at night. Tears become dreams.

And I dream on, into my sadness.

Sólfar, Reykjavík

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