we all lose our charms in the end & W1L 013: Write one leaf about laughing.

This outfit was so deliberately cute I wanted to punch myself in the face just to mess it up a little (I felt like destroying something beautiful), but let's be totally honest: if I had to adopt a uniform to wear into my mid-twenties, it'd basically look like this, age- and office-appropriateness be damned.

I will never unbecome a former Catholic schoolgirl.

Hair ribbon thing: lying around. Black sweater: Target, maybe. White top: Target, maybe. Skirt: secondhand, gift. Tights: BP Nordstrom. Saddle shoes: Payless.

W1L 013: Write one leaf about laughing.

This is an unedited version of my original response to this prompt.

My first friend in high school used to tell me whenever she was happy. She’d actually say “I’m so happy!” At first, this bothered me. 1) Why announce it to the world? 2) Why was she so happy all the time? But after a while, I stopped asking, because, well, when she was happy, it was kind of contagious, and I liked it. Within a few months, I was telling people whenever I felt happy, too. And sad, and nervous, and content, and full of glee. It was the first time I’d ever acknowledged what I was feeling and put a label on it. It was liberating, and something I’d never learned to do as a kid, even though my grief counselor tried to coax it out of me every week, and I would only ever point to the face on the “How Am I Feeling Today?” chart that was labeled “Bored” and wait for her to offer me crayons.

Laughing is a lot harder than feeling like shit. When you can look back and laugh, you’re safe. You’ve made it to home. It means you’ve grown up, and you’ve healed enough that you don’t bleed every time something tries to rip you open. You’ve stopped snapping and started swaying. Bending and not breaking. Because laughing takes more energy and time than letting yourself feel like shit. When you’re grieving, and if you know yourself well enough, you let yourself feel like shit because you can’t handle laughing yet. Or if you’re moping, or lost, or depressed. You let yourself feel like shit because it’s the easy thing to do. Sometimes you need it. Sometimes you need to be lazy. But when your world rights itself again and you can see straight, when you have everything ahead of you and nothing to lose anymore – then you can’t let yourself feel like shit. You have to find a way to laugh.

Laughing’s a lot of work. Most of us will probably spend our whole lives working so we can get to a place where we can sit back and laugh at how hard we worked to get there.

In theater, I was always told that an audience laughing during a serious scene was nervous, and they just didn’t know how to react. Laughter’s supposed to be a response to something surprising. Sometimes you’re so surprised you forget to cry, and you laugh instead, and as you’re laughing to yourself and realizing that your reaction is all wrong, you wonder where you fall on the scale of emotional stupidity, and then laugh harder because you don’t know what else to do. Laughing and crying is a terrible combination. It makes you feel like you’re insane but aware of it but completely helpless. (Crying from laughter has a similar effect… but it’s not as scary.)

It makes me uneasy when I can’t remember the last time I laughed hard enough to struggle with breathing.

So anyway. Now I tell people how I feel all the time. All the bloody time. I also laugh all the bloody time, and at a lot of things that aren’t really funny. Like during a class discussion about words that can’t occur without prefixes. “Like uncouth, and ineffable,” said my GSI, and I laughed as I took the prefixes off, because effable is definitely a word in my James Franco-related vocabulary. Sometimes I’m afraid I laugh at so much these days because I don’t know how else to react to being completely lost, or I’m hoarding these moments of laughter like a miser so I can polish them and put them away for safekeeping, or a rainy day.

But I mean, at least I know if the world is ending in 2012, I’ll die laughing.
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