A Guide to New York City Street Crying

In case you need to have a good weep today, for any reason.

Image: Poster Boy

One of the faint silver linings of the big bad thing that happened in November (and who is, at this moment, moving his sweat-stained ill-fitting collared shirts into a closet in the White House) is that more and more people are discovering one of the great truths about New York City: It is the best place in America in which to cry in the street.

I’m not talking about the single tear that ekes out when you reach the second act of Hamilton. I mean full on, red-faced weeping through the streets of New York, taking an entire walk home to really Work Through Your Shit. Crying is a better use of a six-block walk than looking at Twitter or deleting emails from Anthropologie, and since you’re going to cry anyway (Welcome! To! 2017!), you may as well wrap it up before you get home and have to see your partner/roommates/cat.

What if someone sees me?

They will! They won’t care, though, is the thing. If we stopped to ask everyone in New York why deviating from social norms, we’d never make it to work (or the bar, or the coffee shop where we are “working on a YA novel”).

Which streets are the best for street-crying?

I mean, I wouldn’t try this during rush hour in Midtown, but also… don’t go to Midtown during rush hour. You’re pretty much golden anywhere you can weave unencumbered by obstacles. Too much pausing for slow tourists really does ruin a good street cry. However, on the other hand, a particularly good cry can, from time to time, part a crowd. Take your best shot. A park is often nice. Maybe don’t cry while walking over a bridge. That’s just going to stress everyone out, which is absolutely not the purpose of this exercise.

Should I listen to music?

I AM SO GLAD THAT YOU ASKED. You don’t have to listen to anything but the sound of your own internal conflicts coming to a loud, wet head, but if you’d like, here’s a list to get you started:

  • Anything your mom (dad, grandma, great-uncle, favorite daycare provider) used to sing (or play repeatedly, or dance around in the kitchen to) when you were very young.
  • Any song from a musical in which someone is coming to a dramatic conclusion. Think something Rachel Berry would have performed alone in her room. You’re the Rachel Berry of this block!
  • Anything Sufjan Stevens has ever released.
  • Do you have a crying playlist already? I do. It’s called “car crying” because I grew up in the Midwest, but it translates pretty seamlessly. A lot of John Denver and Linda Ronstadt.

A soundtrack also serves to mark time! It is not advisable to street-cry longer than 12–15 minutes.

Will this work in other places?

Absolutely not. You need a city, and one populated enough that you’re certain not to be the most interesting thing happening on any given street. You need a place where walking is a primary form of transportation. And most importantly, you’re relying on the dead-eyed apathy of New Yorkers to pass by you without a second glance. For reference, I street-cried in Chicago over the holidays, and no fewer than three red-cheeked Midwesterners stopped me to ask if I was all right, which was very sweet but also terrible? New York is the only place in America where everyone knows to leave you the hell alone unless you look like you’re literally going to die (and even then…).

Is it okay to street cry if I am not dealing with a personal problem, but instead grappling with the rapid decline of democracy as I have understood it in this frustrating, struggling, horrifying, incredible country?

Yes. Wash your face when you get home.

Liz Zaretsky is “working on a YA novel.”