Good Life: Laugh Everyday

I had no idea this was just the beginning.

On my Good Life print, there is the suggestion to “laugh everyday.”

Personally, I think the artist was phoning it in when she added that one. Who doesn’t laugh at least once a day? I akin that human reaction to breathing or blinking. Even the grumpiest person let’s out a cynical “heh” when he or she witnesses a bit of schadenfreude.

And that counts in my book.

For the rest of us, I imagine it impossible to go a full day without laughing at least once, especially if we’re around humans or if we catch a political news story.

So, I think the artist could have picked something a little more insightful here, realizing that laughs happen.

Also, shit happens.

It’s the ability to laugh when the shit happens that is an important part of living a good life, if you ask me.

Yesterday was a regular shit storm of laughs.

As you know, I flew out to Las Vegas over the weekend to attend a retirement ceremony, and I will share more about all that later.

But for today, I will tell you about what happened yesterday at the end of my journey.

First, I will explain that I flew on Spirit Airlines, which really should be called “Steerage Airlines” as I imagine the conditions and mob handling are not unlike what they were back when thousands of people huddled together in the underbellies of ships for weeks at a time just to get to America.

Mine was one of those “red-eye” flights from west to east, and for nearly four hours, I pretended to sleep while sitting upright (because Steerage Airlines doesn’t offer reclinable seats) on a crowded flight. It wasn’t awful, but it also wasn’t awesome.

Fortunately, we had some great winds in our favor, and we landed in Baltimore just over 30 minutes early.

Yet, we sat out on the active runway for 40 minutes as we waited for an empty gate at the terminal. I snapped a photo of it, and breathed a sigh of relief.

If that’s the worst thing all morning …

When we finally parked and I got off the plane, I was pretty ecstatic that all I had to do was catch a shuttle to my car in the daily parking garage. I packed one bag for my trip to Las Vegas, overstuffing everything I needed in an oversized backpack (that still fit under the seat in front of me, so no extra charges), so I didn’t need to stop at baggage claim.

I figured I would be on the road in minutes.

Wrong.

I took the shuttle to the parking garage, took the elevator up to the seventh floor of the garage, found my car, and then reached in the front pocket of my bag for my car keys.

My car keys weren’t there.

For the next 35 minutes, I emptied that overstuffed bag, laying out the contents on the hood of my car to go through everything. Packets of make-up. Wadded-up dirty clothes. Three pairs of high heels. (Yup.) My laptop. My electronics, to include my laptop. Souveniers from the Pawn Stars shop.

Everything.

I pulled everything out of that damn bag, searched every pocket, and pouch.

Right about the time my hand grazed the very bottom of my backpack, a series of mental snapshots flickered in my mind. My hotel room. The bed, where I dumped out my items when I got there to unpack. The plastic shopping bags, two of them. One for garbage. The other to separate some of my personal items. My car key — which was a spare, and not on my normal keychain — on the bed next to those bags.

I called the hotel in Las Vegas to ask if my key was turned it. It was not.

It dawned on me that I may have thrown my key out with the garbage.

It was not a happy realization.

I called Martin and woke him up. It was, after all, still early on a beautiful Sunday morning. Of course, he was home.

I may not have used very happy, beautiful language.

Yet, instead of dropping the phone on his tired, angry, frustrated wife, and leaving me to stew inside a nearly-empty parking garage all by myself all day, Martin searched our house for my purse to find my keychain, gathered the children and drove for 45 minutes from our home in Northern Virginia to meet me in the parking garage just outside of Baltimore.

He didn’t even mention the three dollars he had to pay just to exit the place.

He just handed me the keys, waited patiently for Miss C to jump out of the van to join me, and told me to drive carefully.

During that time, I had been sitting on a bench on the first floor of the garage, surfing the Internet as fresh, cheerful travelers strolled past me on the way to the airport. I was glad to finally be able to get into my car and on my way. I was even happier to have Miss C with me for some company.

Yet, as soon as her dad pulled away from us and she stepped away from giving me a hug, she grimanced and said, “Mom, just to let you know, my stomach really hurts.”

I refused to give a moment’s thought.

“Let’s just get in the car and go home,” I said.

All was well at first.

By this time, the sun was fully up in the clear sky, revealing a bright and sunny day. Traffic was relatively light for our area, and I thought for sure we’d be home in no time. Miss C wanted to hear all about my visit at the Pawn Stars store, and the food I ate in Las Vegas, and we were laughing and smiling.

But right at the halfway point, just as we were passing the Mormon temple, Miss C made a gurgled groan, and barely whispered, “Mom?”

She didn’t need to say more. I gripped the wheel and gave orders, keeping my eyes on the road straight ahead.

“Sweetie? The bag. There’s a plastic bag in the backseat. I don’t care what’s inside of it. Dump it out. We’ll clean it up. Just hurry up.”

Miss C had already twisted herself over the middle console, reaching frantically for the plastic bag I was referencing. I heard her flip it inside out, all the contents (make-up, electronic cords, etc.) spilling out all over the backseat.

Then I heard her twist back into the front seat and hurl in the plastic bag.

I heard it before I heard her mutter, “Mom, there’s a hole in the bag.”

I instinctively rolled down my window, holding my breath the entire time until I couldn’t hold it anymore.

And then I started dry-heaving, all the while barreling down the Beltway because there was no way I could stop or pull over.

It was so gross.

That’s when I started laughing.

Like, hysterically and uncontrollably laughing.

Miss C finished up, grabbed a newspaper off the floor of the passenger seat (See? It’s good I keep crap like that down there.), cleaned herself up as best she could, and knotted up the bag before placing it down at her feet on the mat.

She unrolled her window, too.

“Why are you laughing, Mom?” she hollered over the roar of the wind whipping around us in the car, shaking her head. “I thought you’d be mad!”

“I’m not … laughing at you … oh my god … I can’t breathe,” I said. Miss C started laughing nervously, too, her hair whipping around her head from all the wind circulating in the car.

“This is so messed up,” she said.

“Yes,” I agreed. “This is so messed up. But you feel better now, right?”

She nodded her head that she did.

And that’s how we spent the rest of the drive, screaming at each other over the wind as a bag full of vomit sat at her feet in a car that I had been locked out of for most of the morning all after a red-eye flight that was less than enjoyable.

All of that wasn’t awesome.

But laughing at it all was pretty good.

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PS – Miss C was totally fine for the rest of the day. I, on the other hand, don’t remember anything from the time I took a shower to the time I woke up again in time for dinner. 🙂