My son shakes his head when I tell him I get teary, hearing him play drums for "The Star-Spangled Banner" before high school football games.
My daughter rolls her eyes when I gush over her two-minute version of "The Daily Show" at her college campus.
My even-tempered husband says I'm the Queen of Superlatives... best, most fun, saddest, craziest.
With me, nothing is fine or okay or so-so. My emotions come in vivid shades of ebony and scarlet, verdigris and eggshell. Daily events are exhilarating, miserable, adventurous, heart-wrenching, fascinating.
I realize this may be tiresome to people who would rather float along on an even keel. Truthfully, sometimes I tire myself out with my wildly fluctuating emotions. But that's what sleep is for.
As the years have passed, I've learned to temper the outward exhibition of my feelings. I no longer burst into tears at the movies. I don't slam doors. And I try not to scream on roller coasters (well, okay, once in a while, just for fun). But that doesn't mean I'm not lit up inside with a rainbow of emotions a good deal of the time.
I used to think it was a curse, especially in my teen years, when the slightest criticism could make me feel suicidal and having a crush meant such an intense devotion that it would have sent the object of my desire running for cover.
But now I understand that sensitivity can be a blessing. I'm a writer. I need to be intimately in touch with emotions. I have to be able to remember what it's like to have a broken heart, to feel the comfort of strangers, to be deeply in love, to weep like there's no tomorrow, to laugh with childlike delight. Even more important, I need to speak for those who cannot remember or who have, because of their own vulnerability, shut down those feelings.
So I embrace my emotions and let them loose to play upon the page. My characters giggle and scream and lambaste and roar. They scowl and smirk and choke on laughter. Their hearts melt with affection and harden with determination. Their spirits drown in despair and soar to the heights of ecstasy.
And when friends and family tell me I'm too "over-the-top," I just grin and nod.
Stories to keep you up all night.
Riding to the rescue April 2006