The Way Everyone Laughed

By Alissa Kruidenier

March 6th of 2017, 1:46 am

There’s the way Harrison laughed in the sunlight holding a bottle of champagne, fresh grass and baguette and pure joy. Heat streaming through the Parc de Champagne, the way Sara and I fucked around and how Ryan always knew how to make me laugh. Arching a sarcastic eyebrow, the Place d’Erlon and a glass of wine and Jo forever fiddling with the camera to get that perfect shot. Moira and a blue sea and the wind and the realization I ought to have worn pants – the hail, the catacombs, hugging Jo again and running amuck through passageways of stone like liquid light. Nothing here was permanent, flitting in and out, running to painted boats in pursuit of cannoli like my life depended on it.

Acidic bubbles straight to your bloodstream, champagne tastes like dark grey streets and flashes of hot blue fun. There was the heated groove of Menton and the orange-yellow squares of mustard seed in Brienon-Sur-Armançon, fields whizzing past in trains and whisking by during overhead flights. The tedious calamity of grocery shopping, rows upon rows of nausea and condescending checkout women. Blundering hugs with Kivanç, the blatant laughter shared with Griffin, spiting the world and daring it to make another pass as the mist came down and the moss was blasted from the Cathedral walls.

Running past dizzying lights of Cologne, dodging through bustling markets as Guillaume and Ryan cackle behind me, holding on to my hair in desperation while Fridtjof carries all our bags. There was a tree too beautifully lit to ever take a picture of, and a dinner with Liz above Monaco as the sun fell and we sprinted through the train station to make it back to Nice just in time.

There was the light in Annie’s eyes, the way Jackie and Claire could kill a bottle of wine one-handed while walking down the street in a flat five minutes. I used to laugh on Will’s shoulder, clutching rosé and grasping my slippery sanity, and then I’d go to Harrison’s after where he and Tim would make chili lavishly and teach me to watch RuPaul. There was the way Justice laughed in the jardin of Rodin, skirt whipping in the wind and her face shining. That was the last time I ever went to the Musée d’Orsay, dodging through hallways as viscerally familiar as the one I grew up in while she and Harrison sipped coffee, waiting for me to get my fill of Degas and Monet and huge canvases covered in gradients of sparkling brushstrokes.

But between it all was the familiar current of California, the benign drama and bagels and insistent reminders to clean my room. Bela, so familiar she was like a pulse under my skin, holding me as I cried and wondered what it would be like to walk through three airports again to get to my other home. Past the pain was the dizzying height of Mount Etna, volcanic rock forming shrines around statues of the Madonna as our car wound its way up the mountain pass and into the mythical lair of the Cyclopes.

There was Berit, stunning and heartwarming in every way, laughter and spark and gluten-free vodka flavored with jolly ranchers. Jeremy and Pierre always had a hug and a piece of tough love to send me on my way, walking past roundabouts stacked with tulips in the springtime. There was the way David made me laugh, like the chocolate pudding he brought me while I was bedridden and the sun shone for the first time in months and small bits of sédimentaires settled in my kidney. Walking tipsy up the rue Saint Maurice, smashed wine bottles and distant screams and what it felt like to be carried home by Fern and Liz, who knew what it was to be scared and never asked anything in return for their care.

And now my throat aches and my stomach is scraped clean and I haven’t heard from Dion and Emil and anyone else in months. I remember the acrid fizz, the swaying drunken walks, the laughter drifting up through glass hallways as we ran, sprinting through rambling passageways and living in the present. In that space, in each of those seconds, we were sparkling and infinitely passionate, embers of promise and adventure and alcoholism – there will never be another moment quite like those, and there will never be anything to replicate the way that everyone would laugh.

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