If there were ever two words which, for me, describe that moment between “you and me” and “youandme” it’s those two, those two put together, that little oddity of ‘quiet laughter’.
Quiet laughter is your sleep-tousled hair, old glasses slightly askew on your nose as you struggle to focus to turn on the kettle in the morning because life gets busy, we don’t sleep as much as we should, but the thought of starting the day caffeine-less is even worse than being kicked in the spleen, and so you stand there staring at the stove, uncertain as to what knob does what, and it’s the sweetest scene in the world.
I laugh, quietly, I love you like this, simple and true.
Quiet laughter is me, literally arms up in the air, as I describe the numbskulls who have wasted my time, wasted by day, violated my moral code, and attempted to start World War XVIII at the office to deliberately, and personally, spite me, and can’t you see and understand that they’re all out to get me and that I should quit (and you should, too!) and we should retire to a island third world country with unreliable phone service, toss our passports, and swim with the dolphins until we understand their secret language.
You laugh, quietly, you love me like this, bristled and honest.
Quiet laughter is us, after a dinner with a couple we don’t like very much but propriety requires, and we shuffle off (sneak away, really) to a tiny, dark wine-bar and order the same cheeseboard and same wine that we’ve done for years, and reflect on the ridiculousness of our night’s event, and talk excitedly of vacations that we may never actually take, muse over how the days, the weeks, the months, the seasons, the years have gone by, and lapse into the silence of the comfort of sharing space and hearing someone else breathe.
We laugh, quietly, we will always love each other because there is no place else we’d rather be.
Today would have been our nth anniversary – I stopped counting because I lost track of what was and what would have been – and you are not here and I am not with you. Life gets in the way of quiet laughter; it gets loud and bothersome, it makes demands on our time (so I leave before you make your coffee) and it makes demands on our souls (it’s no longer amusing the tempestuous rages) and it makes demands on our worlds (friends divorce and breakup and break and we all break with it).
Life destroys intimacy because it gets in between what does and does not matter. I suppose that must be accepted, it is as it is, but that doesn’t mean I have ever stopped loving you or that I ever will. I would like to believe you feel the same, wherever you are as you now do whatever it is that you do.
Remember, darling, the knob always twists to the right.