Monday, February 6, 2012

easy laughter...

I was just minding my own business.

Yes, I was laughing.
Yes, I was having fun.
Yes, I was with friends. But I was minding my own damn business and yet, someone was coming up to our table with that familiar look of authority.

You probably know by now from past stories that I seem to rather approachable. Random strangers in line at the grocery, or passersby at the park, or gas station attendants/toll-booth operators/fast food clerks; I’ve learned…no, experienced, over the years that when someone is walking towards me and looks as though they are about to speak? They usually do.

I’ve gleaned intimate details of their lives from these veritable strangers. Or their daughters lives; or spouses lives; or the lives of their next door neighbors. I’ve heard about their upcoming surgeries or past surgeries. I heard things that are humorous; things that are sad; and things that are heartwarming…all from strangers. Perfect strangers that obviously needed to speak out about whatever was on their mind…and I just happened to be the person in the line of fire.

I’m not sure what it IS about me exactly that entices these random incidences to happen. I did at one time wish to be a psychiatrist, but that was long ago and I’m not exactly handing out business cards to listen. My daughter all but has accepted this phenomenon as a regular occurrence. When out to eat she expects the waiter or waitress to strike up in-depth conversation. She used to roll her eyes when it started, she now just sits and waits, absorbing the spectacle and then messages it to her friends. “Yup. Sitting in a restaurant with my mom. And yup, someone is telling her a story…again.”

Last month my friend Laurie and I were out dining. Having beenin the industry I do always try to pay attention when the waiter or waitress says their name and then at least once use him or her name when ordering. I’ve found over the years that you will indeed get better service and hey, it just makes them feel better! So why not? But my thanking Marisa, our waitress, for her exceptional service kindof backfired in a way. Apparently now since she knew our names and we hers Marisa pulled up a chair, sat down and commenced to join in on our converstion. It was the end of the evening. We were her last table. But she might have filled our wine glasses prior to pulling up said chair…that would’ve been nice! It was a tad odd but fun all at the same time. Yet one more story to add to the collection.

So with all this history with people I don’t know, when I saw someone approaching our table while kicking back, relaxing and enjoying not only the company but the ambiance at a local Irish pub…it wasn’t totally surprising to me, and yet it always is, when an elderly gentleman approached our table.

“Are ye havin’ fun?” he asked me in a deep Irish brogue.

“Why yes…yes, I am!” I responded. Putting my hand to the side of my mouth and whispering to him as if we were sharing a secret, “Is it that noticeable?”

He looked me straight in the eye and said, “Aye, it 'tis…I heard yer laughter way over to the other side dere and taught I should top over and see fer meself what all da ruckus about.”

“I’m so sorry. Was I being too loud?” I asked.

I really was taken aback. I mean, I was laughing…but it’s laughter! In a pub! I didn’t know I should have been using 5 star restaurant golf club cocktail party laughter in a pub. His comment actually made me feel suddenly slightly deflated. I didn’t realize that I had been bothering anyone. I made a little mental note; ‘don’t laugh so loud’ to myself.

“No my darlin’…I LOVE the sound of yer laughter! I just wanted to you to know yer welcome here anytime.” He winked at me. “And to prove it to ya, the next rounds on the house. You’re making all dese people over dere happy with da sound of it.”

This little compliment almost made me cry.
In a split second I thought about the fact that laughter hadn’t come so easy in the several years past.

Many of my past memories that I think “well, there was that one time...that was fun” wasn't really. It was forced fun. Not real fun. Doing things, planning things, creating things in only to make him happy. I felt that if I made him laugh, him happy, then I too, would be happy in return.

Yeah. It doesn't work like that. Go figure...

I asked my companions “do I laugh too loud?”

NO!!!” they all replied. “it’s so good to hear! You didn’t laugh for a long time, Nancy. We thought you had forgotten how to.”

Yikes! Really? How did that happen to me? It still surprises me to think back to where I had ended up mentally. That wasn’t the Nancy that I knew…this laughing Nancy is the one that I’ve always embraced! The one that I’ve always had the mental image of who I was. Who I am.

But as it turns out, it had been such a long time since I could feel my eyes twinkle, so long since I'd been happy or when laughter came so easily. It’s been such a very long time since I’ve been this relaxed. And this confident. To feel as though doors are opening and I’m excited to explore and see what the day brings. I used to look forward to bed, where I would toss and turn, unable to sleep because of the stress and depression my relationship had put me. I wanted so desperately for the day to end…quickly, so I wouldn’t have to endure another moment of it. All in hopes that when I awoke, things would be different. Things would have changed. And then I lost that hope.

Until a year ago October.
It broke my heart. He broke my heart. But it's fully mended now.

My laughter comes easy.
My confidence in place.

I even enjoy that strangers talk to me. It’s all pretty cool in the big scheme of things. I’m in a very, very good place right now. And obviously, it shows. 

As it turns out, this spry elderly gentleman is the owner and purveyor of said Pub. “You come back now anytime darlin’”, he said to me as he bowed to me holding my hand. “We’re in dire need of da sound of yer laughter in this place.”

He had no idea how he hit that on the head. As it turns out, I had been in dire need of hearing my laughter myself. And on my leave I promised him that indeed I would be back. And soon.

I already own my own mug there, hung from the ceiling with my name on it, but it’s really not been used much since it’s purchase. But me thinks it won’t be gathering any dust from now on out. I do believe that I’ve found my Cheers!