My giggle has snowballed.
What started off as a thin curve in the corner of my mouth, now parts my teeth and lips. Old, stale air busts out of my lungs, exhaling dust, like a door being pulled off an ancient, sealed tomb. It’s more than just a breath — I let everything go. I once sat, tight-lipped and quiet, but now — wild noises erupt from my face.
Laughter. It’s happening.
At unpredictable times, with unpredictable rhythms, and in unpredictable places. It’s disconcerting — and glorious.
Up until recently, laughter was something I used with caution — I guarded it. I covered my mouth with my hands. Laughter seldom passed these lips that, for a long while, only spoke solemn words. Back then, I let all the jesters in my life perform without reward. I held on tightly to a pain that, I was sure, laughter would invalidate. So, it leaked it out in small spurts, like little coughs, that barely sounded.
I have since learned to let things escape.
Now, I hold my knees together while my stomach shakes. I laugh — tears streaming from the corners of my eyes, running over my cheekbones — which are sore from smiling. Sometimes, I think I need to be sedated. But, instead of quieting the squeals of my sweet abandon — I let them loose. It frees me up. It makes space for the things that need the room. It allows others to do the same. The word “infectious” is not an appropriate one here. This thing — this audible joy — is not a disease. It’s the cure.
Laughter is its own form of permission. The first time I set it free — along with the ancient air that sat trapped in my gut — I felt like I might be sick. I didn’t know what I was letting go of. I have learned to embrace the vacancy. There is just an empty space now, but, it’s not a void that needs filling. So, I leave it — happily unoccupied.
Today, I snort out my pleasure like a pig in shit. I sit in front of the TV screen and let it hit the chords I cannot hit myself. I let a friend’s sarcasm rub me the right way. I feel it — my own fresh air — rushing up the sides of my chest. I belt out chuckles that travel from the couch to the kitchen.
Laughter is the great necromancer. Something in me is alive again.
I feel it rise in my throat. I throw my head back. I let it escape me.
Now, who’s got a good joke?