I cry on planes. I sleep, and when I wake up, I cry. Not in a delicate, teary-eyed kindof way. I sob. I sob, and my face is all red and blotchy, and all the little veins in my eyes turn red, and I look dreadful. I don’t look like someone who has just seen a beautiful sunset out of her window and shed a few tears because she’s just so moved. I look like someone who’s run out of tissues and is wiping snot across their face with the back of their hand. I flew to Havana a few years ago with a great friend. Like most of my close friends, this woman is smart, funny and compassionate. She also threatened to move seats if I didn’t stop crying so ostentatiously. (matters were not improved when I exited the plane gaily exclaiming “beunos aires” to all the air stewardesses. My Spanish leaves something to be desired). I try to warn people before we fly. “Look, I know you’ve come to associate me with a certain level of sang-froid, a certain effortless cool. The thing is, I cry on planes.” No-one ever listens. I mean, they have to when it’s quiet, and they’ve turned all the cabin lights off and everyone else is asleep. But by then it’s too late. There’s no escape. (I know this, because I’ve seen their eyes search frantically for an escape route. I’m crying. I’m not blind). My family, hardened by years of dealing with my little foibles (or as they delicately put it- her unbelievable weirdness), ignore me. My little sister once told a concerned air-steward I was crying because I had forgotten how to speak English. She then ordered me the most horrible of the in-flight meals.
I have spent some time trying to isolate what it is that makes me cry. It’s not the overhead strip lighting, because I’ve never cried in a nightclub toilet. (Well, maybe once, but that was because I’d lost one of my fake eyelashes and my lopsided reflection scared me). It’s not the movement, because I don’t cry in other forms of transport (A coupla times in a late-night taxi when I thought my house had moved without telling me). All I have managed to do is try to mitigate my condition:
1. I do not watch the movies. Any of them. On the aforementioned flight to Havana I sobbed loudly for 35mins because the chap in ‘Goal 3’ misses a call from his girlfriend.
2. I always take tissues. Strangely, tissues elicit a disapproving beep from those airport detectors. I have no idea why, but I’m always having to pull wads of tissues out of my pockets. It would probably be less embarrassing to pull out some anthrax.
3. I try to sit next to the window. That way, I can pretend I’m just deeply affected by the beautiful sunset.