Hal recalls funerals of friends and relatives, he did not cry at these. When his dog died on his thirteenth birthday, he didn’t cry. Even when he did a back flip onto a rusty nail that went clear though his foot, he didn’t relinquish a drop of precious tears. There were plenty more opportunities, sad movies, breakups, breakdowns, but no tears to soothe the pain. As I explained, Hal believes that his is incapable of the physical act of crying, he believes that he feels the emotions, just that the actual liquid expression has faulty plumbing. Then explain Hal, if you can, why you never experience the other facets of crying? No sniffing, no blubbering, nothing.
One non-eventful Tuesday in April, Hal is driving home from work. He is listening to an NPR story about the relationships between some baseball fans and their gloves. The story goes into vivid detail, the sentiment and emotion that the glove can evoke to the owner. One particular interviewer speaks about how his glove, a badly worn Rawlings outfield glove from the late 1950s, still has the same smell of dusty leather and grass as the last time he and his now deceased father played catch in the yard.
As Hal drives, he is suddenly overwhelmed with emotion. A deluge of sentiment and memory are stirred inside him in a way like never before. His thoughts swirl in his memory of his father playing catch with him in the bright sunlight. Laughing, joking, being together. He is forced to pull the car to the side of the road. Then something happens, something miraculous, something unfamiliar and peculiar. A single drop of water flows from one of Hal’s eyes. He twists the rear view mirror of the car and is shocked to see the streak down his face of a full fledged tear. His eyes well up and the cascade begins.
As if a dam has burst from behind his eyes, a torrent of waters flows forward as Hal sobs uncontrollably in his car. New to this experience, and caught up in the moment, Hal doesn’t notice the tremendous amount of water coming from his eyes. Within a few moments, the tears have filled his car above his ankles. There is no end in sight. The tears continue, shortly, Hal is almost completely submerged, he opens the door as tears splash like a waterfall on the pavement. Hal is washed away with the tears in a river of his own making. The more the river flows, the more the tears continue. Hal just lies on his back and feels the salty river carry him on.
Hal is deposited into the ocean more than two hundred miles from the emergence of his river. He floats silently in the water, now even greater from his contribution. “I am clean. He whispers silently to the clouds. I am clean.”