I knew a boy once who laughed with his whole body.
I have never met anyone else whose laughter was so happy. He laughed like a larger man than he was would; his chuckle growing inside the cavity of his chest, always deep and loud, making his body shake. His eyes would crinkle at the corners, he would throw his head back, and laugh.
His laughter would roll off of him in waves, his hand clutching his stomach like he was trying to hold it all inside himself. He would shake and shake, his body palpitating, his guffaws spilling out in the air. It was probably the happiest thing I’ve ever seen or heard in my whole life.
It was beautiful.
I couldn’t help but laugh along with him, even if I didn’t find whatever it was he was laughing at particularly funny. When this kid laughed, you had to laugh too.
What made it all so interesting was that it was a type of laughter that seemed extremely out of character for him. He laughed at inappropriate drawings on school desks, he laughed when he or others made crude jokes, he laughed when his friends were disrespectful to me. It was almost hypocritical– what he found so funny didn’t deserve something so pure and happy as his laughter.
I loved how he laughed so much that those other things didn’t matter– and there was one other thing that I loved about this boy that he did.
He painted. He drew. He was an artist– and a really good one at that. I have never been an art person– whenever I look at a painting or a sculpture or something that is supposedly meaningful in that way I feel like I’m missing something– but you knew this boy had talent. I didn’t necessarily understand what he created, but it was better than anything I could do or have done.
This boy goes to art school now. He makes (what I understand to be) mixed media art– drawings and paintings and digital programming. Apparently he’s changed. He doesn’t find inappropriate drawings funny anymore, he doesn’t make crude jokes.
He loves the world, he loves himself. He still laughs like the happiest person in the world. And it’s beautiful.