“So I lit a firecracker, went off in my eye.”

to: pamie@pamie.com
date: August 2, 2005 10:59:24 AM PDT
subject: (no subject)

I had A dream that I was At My House And I was Crying for mys sister that I haven’t seen in a long time.



I don’t know why Meagan thinks I can interpret her dreams. I’ve never met Meagan, so I’m not sure what led her to sending me an email about her REM memories.

Just taking a shot here, Meagan, but I’m guessing you miss your sister. I know how that feels. I haven’t seen my sister in a long time. I love her very much, and whenever I stop to think about how little I’ve seen her since I left for college, it is heartbreaking. If you count up all the hours and lined them up consecutively, perhaps we’ve seen each other for about a month in the past twelve years. It’s not enough time. I constantly feel like I’m missing out on her life, and there’s nothing we can really do about it. I want her to succeed, she wants me to succeed, and we don’t want to live the same kind of life. We never have. From when we were little, as much as we loved each other, we never wanted to be all that much alike. It makes sense that we shot out in wildly different paths. Both of us would accuse the other one of taking the harder road.

As for why you were crying in your dream, I have a few theories. I recently had a dream where I couldn’t stop crying. A friend told me it was my brain dealing with the stuff I don’t stop to let it handle, getting out the emotions I’m keeping bottled up.

I laugh very easily, but I don’t usually cry unless I stop to do it. Not like Holly Hunter in Broadcast News. It’s not that deliberate, like on a schedule. But I have gotten very good at keeping a straight face if I think my tears are only going to worsen the situation. At some of my saddest times I’ve been completely stone-faced. At goodbyes and bad news and terrifying moments when the only thing that makes sense is to cry buckets, I freeze up. Remember how Ma Joad went the entire night with her dead mother in the wagon and she never cried out once, never shed a tear? When Pa tried to hold her in the morning, she said, “Don’t. I’m alright until you touch me.” That’s me. I’m fine until someone I love touches me. And then it’s all over. Then I’m gone.

A few years ago I had a year when I thought I was never going to stop crying. Everything was so overwhelming I felt like every inhale was another shaky sob. When I got out from under that year, I was a different person. It felt like I’d done decades of crying in those horrible months when I couldn’t figure out what I was going to do with myself.

Last year, during all the wedding planning, I cried easily again. But this time it was over the happiest things. I’m not usually a happy crier, but that was a pretty intense time, planning a ceremony while buying a house and starting a new job. I cried at the mere thought of things back then, the concepts of love. I wept like a baby all through my wedding rehearsal, but at the actual ceremony there was only one time that I choked up. On the word “sister.” One deep breath (and apparently a heavy application of the word “Dude”) and I was back.

I don’t usually weep when something’s sweet or romantic. Tears don’t fall out of my eyes if I laugh too hard. There are very few commercials that get me going. I can only remember one right now, and I don’t think it made me weep that second time. Yes, I cried at Terms of Endearment. As much as Liz likes to tease that I have a cold, black heart, I still cry with a sad movie. But I suppose that’s still a moment of someone touching me, telling me it’s okay to cry. Someone else is in pain, too.

One monologue I had in the Aspen show was about a night I was driving home from my graveyard shift at the reality show, and a song came on the radio that got me all depressed and maudlin about my dad. Only once I found out it was by Evanescence that I lost it, because it was all too pathetic. In the monologue (as it was that night) I’m crying hysterically, still driving, still trying to maintain in that way we do when we lose it inside the safety of our cars, when we’re hurling ourselves seventy-five miles an hour to keep up with traffic, while losing our shit behind the steering wheel. And every time I did that monologue, I was in that car again. Talk about purging a memory.

That song is also on one of the Karaoke Revolutions. And it used to make me misty from the first three notes. “Shit, this song really is sad,” Sara commented once. “No wonder, Pam.” But now I can hear it and it doesn’t do anything. I can talk about this monologue with you now, and I’m not tearing up. I beat it out of me through repetition. I’m back to being stone-faced, because I cannot deal with being that sad about it anymore.

That’s what happened with my sister, I guess. I cannot handle how sad it is when I think about how rarely I get to see her. I love her so much, but I cannot be with her. Our lives aren’t on the same path. Maybe someday she can come and visit for a while. She’s hoping I one day have a guesthouse and a few dogs I need her to take care of. And I know part of me is working to make that dream come true, so that we can play games in the pool again, eat peanut butter and fluff sandwiches in our swimsuits, and call each other “Crazy Sister.” But for now I cannot let myself dwell on it, because it would be so sad that I’d end up quitting my job, selling my house and hauling my life over to her front doorstep, cats and husband and all, and I’d try to find a way to keep her by my side. She’d be miserable. I’d be miserable. It would be the worst thing ever. But I’d have done it. And she’d know how much I love her. She could never say I didn’t want to destroy my life for her.

Hey, Meagan. I hear you. I don’t know what to tell you, but I know what it’s like to miss someone so much you just want to sit still, At Your House, and cry forever.

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