The Silence of Laughter

And I remember it taking a long time to stop feeling as good as laughing felt. Even though it took me a long time to get tired, I remember feeling like I needed to stop laughing sooner. And then once I did stop, even though the night had already been pretty good, it felt like it got even better.

I met James’s parents for the first time that night, and they were both really nice about it. I tried to imagine what it must be like for them -- having your son come home and introduce you to his new friend. It must have been weird for James to introduce me as his new friend, but it didn’t seem weird at all. And even though I had only known him a few weeks, I felt like he was my friend too.

And when we left, James was so happy that he gave me a giant hug in front of his house. It was night by then, but there were still people walking around on the streets since they didn’t sleep or something like that. And when we hugged in front of his house, someone walked by and saw us and laughed out loud at us because we were hugging in public right next to where all the people lived who weren’t allowed to sleep during daylight hours. The people who had to go to work. The people who had confined themselves to the prison we call the American work life that I would soon be sentenced to against my will.

James didn’t care that someone had seen us hugging, because he knew it was harmless, and he also knew that they didn’t know the whole story. And I didn’t care either, because I knew they were just jealous. And even though James had introduced me as his new friend, I felt like he was my best friend too. I couldn’t wait to tell Dr. Napier about how happy James was -- about how good a friend he had been to me in only the short time that we had known each other. But then when we got back to my house and said goodbye, it felt like something wasn’t right. And even though I don’t know why or what it was exactly -- maybe it was just that we never met again after that night -- there was part of me that still cared what they thought of me.

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