Letting Go

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Husband and wife selfie, Part I.

The other night, a series of things happened that made me laugh until I cried. I don’t mean a chuckle, I mean tears streaming down my face to the point that my eyes got all puffy afterwards and it looked like I was having an allergic reaction of sorts. These things that made me laugh so hard weren’t even all that funny — a message I sent to Scott in our usual lazy habit of texting each other when I am upstairs already in bed and his night owl self is still downstairs watching television. It was merely an unfortunate autocorrect, but had me laughing so hard that Scott texted back to me “Is that you upstairs…laughing?”

He wasn’t sure if it was laughter he was hearing through the ceiling or if I was sobbing.

I’m not sure if that says more about what my laugh sounds like — though maybe all hysterics sound alike at a certain pitch and intensity — or if that kind of laughter just sounds, well, somewhat foreign in our home.

Don’t get me wrong — we laugh around here. It is over something silly the kids do, or one of Scott’s deadpan comments, dripping with sarcasm. There are smiles that deepen those well-earned lines around my mouth along with the creases next to my eyes. They are the signs of aging that do not frighten me because their provenance has been so difficult to come by the past five years.

Much like the oft-referred to “good cry”, I think I needed this uncontrollably laughing fit. I needed to let this out, and I was surprised at how it got away from me, how I had absolutely no control over stopping. Once I got started, I barely had control over not peeing (thanks, kids).

But after a while, after I was exhausted and had finally lay down in bed, thoughts began swirling in my head and I realized something that I hadn’t consciously acknowledged before — that kind of silliness, the maniacal laughter, it felt foreign to me. It was like an old friend who you run into, whose face is familiar, but who you still utterly can’t place.

This actually happens to me constantly, the most memorable being “Famous Tom”, in an incident about ten years ago that Scott still teases me about to this day. I was in the drugstore downstairs from our apartment building when we lived in Manhattan, and I saw someone down one of the aisles whose face I knew I had seen before, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out where. He was tall and at least two decades older than me, in his late forties or early fifties with graying hair at his temples and good looking in that distinguished sort of way. I was on the phone with Scott at the time, who was on his way home from work, asking him what else we needed from the store aside from the batteries and shampoo I had in my basket. I told him about the man.

“I think he’s famous or something, because I definitely know him, but he’s much older than me, so I know we didn’t go to school or camp together or anything. Maybe he’s on Law & Order.”

Every actor that’s ever even visited New York has been on Law & Order. I believe it’s some sort of Screen Actor’s Guild Law.

I finished up at the drugstore and ran across the street to grab a few last minute groceries, still trying to place where I had seen that man before, and walked the block home to our apartment building. As I stepped through the doors, Scott had also just entered the lobby, and greeted the doorman that was on duty as he always did.

“Hey, Tom.”

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