16 December 2010

My First "Genuine Laugh"

As word of the BU spread, I got a lot of e-mail and Facebook messages. There Was a lot of "what happened," "it'll be okay," and "everything happens for a reason." I got a few messages from other people who were part of recently severed partnerships. No two stories were alike. None of the circumstances were like mine. None of the advice could really be applied. But one line from message stuck with me, and gave me a goal. Someone wrote:
"I genuinely laughed for the first time again about a week ago."
I wanted to reply "great! Please send a step by step guide to genuine laughter." For a few moments I considered the possibility of a laughter road map I could follow. Logic showed its face, telling me I had to find my own genuine laughs and I began my search. But I couldn't find what I didn't understand. How did a "genuine laugh" feel? Was it genuine if it kept me from thinking about the BU for an hour? A week? Would I only know it after it passed? Would it change my perspective on some things? On everything? I had a lot of expectations for the elusive genuine laugh and I hunted it as if it were camouflaged prey.

Now I have that beast stuffed above my mantle.

16 October 2010
I had my first genuine laugh. I found it in San Jose, where I had gone for what I like to call "Sporty Saturday." Melissa, Neena & I met at Gordon Biersch to watch the Giants play the Phillies in game one of the not-World-Series-but-close playoffs. At first no, it doesn't make sense that Melissa would drive from Sacramento to San Jose to watch a baseball game. It also doesn't make sens that I would leave San Francisco to watch the San Francisco Giants play. But it was also the night of the Sharks home opener, and you may recall we had tickets to that. The least stressful way to watch both games was to get to San Jose early. The garlic fries were just the icing on the cake.

I had actually suspended my hunt for that day. It's not that I didn't expect to laugh, I just refused to be on edge or distracted while with friends. It's hard enough to pretend around everyone else. I went to San Jose planning to a) not get drunk and babble and b) relax. That seemed simple enough.

We talked, and then we laughed. We didn't focus on my break up or my feelings. I didn't feel like I was on the spot. Other people have lives and those lives have ups and downs too. It's not about feeling sorry for yourself, or having people pity you. It's about what you choose to do under this particular set of circumstances. We talked about how things change, and about embracing now. Friendships dissolve and sometimes there's no going back. We talked about goals and the uncertainty of the future. It doesn't read like light, playoff conversation. And maybe it wasn't. But it came easily and felt good. Besides, there were plenty of light moments.

I shared my baseball insight, which consists of being able to tell when a ball is too far out to be hit. I called Melissa out on being a chihuahua attacking greyhounds. It seems like she's only lippy to really tall people. We played "do you still carry a tape measure in your purse?" I like to think I won that game. Melissa & I tried to describe A&E's Hoarders to Neena, telling her she should watch if for no other reason than professional development. After the Giants game, Neena went home & Melissa & I went to the Sharks game. We had missed the first period - which by all accounts was great. The Sharks were up 2 - 0 when we arrived. They were down 4 - 0 at the end. Perhaps the highlight of the game:
"How much do you think a bucket of paint costs?" - Danie
"I don't know. I would say... I'm going to say $5... $7.49 for the good stuff." - Melissa
"Melissa, a gallon of paint does not cost $5."
I laughed until I started to cry. I had been wondering if a gallon of paint was $25 - $30, or $40 - $50. I suppose I should have specified. But she was so matter-of-fact about the $5 ($7.49 for the good stuff), that I couldn't stop laughing. In between my giggles, I had two thoughts.
Kate's going to laugh, and say "Oh Melissa."
I'm really really laughing.
And there it was, the capture of the genuine laugh. It didn't come in just that moment. I had been creeping toward it all day. If I had to describe it, I'd say it was hope born of familiarity. I've laughed like that before. I then knew I could do it again. That was important.