I had a good therapist once, right in the village of old New Paltz, who could at times bring me to the point of some pretty startling admissions and disclosures. And at those moments of damning candor and recognition, moments of pulling hard truths from the inchoate murk of the self into the light with the simple, declarative language of ownership, I would laugh.
“What are you laughing at?” he would erupt.
I know for him that my tears would have been a victory. Therapists collect the tears of men like AAA emeralds or a Jace the Mind Sculptor Magic: The Gathering card. They get a star on their helmets every time a man cries in the chair. With vials of our frozen tears, they have purchased second homes and red convertibles.
I offered him instead a laugh. He must have heard it as dismissive, self-excusing, mocking even.
But couldn’t he have been a little more flexible and less Hollywood in his translation of emotion? To me, it seemed that laugh was pretty much saying everything all at once — pain, release, surprise, and a plea for acceptance within his certified circle of “okay.” It was also an offer to him: complicity in all this, load sharing. Isn’t it amazing we are like this? Holy shit: humans. Am I right?
I laugh sometimes when I think of life during Covid 19, and what life is likely to be like in this thing we can’t help but call “after.”
It is the same laugh.