Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Afterlaugh!

There’s no real reason for this change of perspective that you are going to hear about… except maybe a sequence of events, that included a long winter, and a recent visit from Sarah and Kevin. When Sarah and Kevin were in Finland, we laughed a lot.

Sometimes we laughed because things were funny. For example, the time that Kevin musically accompanied the cyclist who was ringing her bike bell (at us) as she rode down the sidewalk. “Brrrring, brrrrring,” he said. It seemed like there was some scene going on in his head and he briefly forgot that he was in the real world (where it’s not very common to get “brrrringed” at). Almost in the same breath, he said “Oh yeah, they can hear me, I always forget that when everyone’s speaking Finnish.” And then he turned a little reddish and all three of us nearly fell over into the streets of Tampere because we were laughing so hard. He had just rung an imaginary bell at a real cyclist. It didn’t even cross my mind that we were laughing at Kevin. I was too busy trying to keep my balance and get enough oxygen.

But sometimes we just laughed because we wanted to laugh. We laughed out loud at things that were not funny. It was as though we (as a group) wanted to laugh first, and then we (as a group) came up with something to laugh about second, regardless of whether it was funny. It didn’t matter. My point is-- laughter: very important.

In combination with the things that I absolutely love about Finland, like the honesty, the genuine conversations, and wonderful hospitality, there are also challenges that I have to face. Some of these challenges are actually quite difficult for me. But don’t worry, today, after seven months in Finland, I have figured out how to handle them. All I need to do is laugh. And honestly, it’s easy to make me laugh, I’ve just never actively tried before.

So, if you fall down and I dramatically rush over to help, and you get embarrassed and refuse my help; I’m going to laugh at myself. I’m going to laugh because that’s not how it works here. If I ask you about your research interests with genuine curiosity, and you get visibly irritated at my numerous questions; I am going to laugh. If you plow into me with your shopping cart while I’m kneeling down to compare the prices of light bulbs; I’m going to laugh. I am going to laugh if I get to the student housing office at 3:31 after leaving work early, only to find that it closed at 3:30 and no one is in sight. I’m going to laugh because I did it again. If the buses are going to run on time, somewhere in the local system of logic, it says that the housing office also must close on time. And finally, if you are drunk to the stars and you can see the polar lights, and you feel that you need to sit next to me on the train; I’m not going to get scared. I'm not going to get angry. I’m not going to feel sorry for you. I’m going to laugh.

I’m going to laugh at myself and at my own confusion. I’m going to laugh at whatever it is that I do that invites acutely drunk people into my personal space. I’m going to laugh at the times that I’ve been clueless and didn’t realize the things that were obvious to everyone else. I’m going to laugh and have fun with our cultural differences. I’m going to laugh that some Finnish words require ten or 20 English words, simply to explain their meaning. I’m going to laugh that I get so caught up in the process and the journey that I occasionally forget about the end goal. I’m going to laugh that I, Laura McLaughlin, one of the guiltiest causes of the awkward silence, is the one who won’t stop talking. I’m going to laugh when I can tell by your response that I just said something inappropriate, but I have no idea what it was. I’m going to laugh at the KKK Supermarket. And I’m going to laugh even more at the Ass Market (written S, but pronounced Ass!). I’m going to laugh even if I am laughing and no one else is laughing! In fact, I'm going to laugh because I'm the only one laughing.

So if you’re looking for me, I’ll be the one in Tampere enjoying the daylight and LAUGHING!


Anonymous said...

YAY!!!!!!!!!!!THIS is the stuff life is made of!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I Can NOT agree with you more. There is entirely more space in this world for more laughter.I'll be the one laughing by your side.-Robin

Anonymous said...

In fact, I'm going to print this blog out at work tomorrow, so that everybody else can see MY SISTER is the one laughing.
-Also Robin

Leasa Weimer said...

I love this post! Let's laugh more...I can honestly say, I haven't had a gut-wrenching laugh in a long time. I think I miss my brother for that fact, he was always easy to make my stomach ache from a good laugh. They say that you more you laugh, the happier you are...Hmmmmm! More laughter is in order!!!

Greg said...

Is THAT who was making that cackling noise!! All is revealed now! :)