Women’s Laughter

October 7th, 2014 | Posted by Barbara Belknap in Activation | Gatherings | Humor

J. Florian's outdoor cafe Venice 1999Q. Lake Como boat ride 1999On my way home from grocery shopping, windshield wipers going full tilt, I was thinking about my next blog post and up popped women’s laughter. Juneau is breaking all records for rain and that’s saying something in a city that measures annual rainfall in feet. As I was checking out at Safeway, I said something about the general suckiness of so much rain. As she ran my vegetables over the scanner, the cashier said her 21 year old son and some of his friends are headed for Hawaii this week. She shared that she asked him if she could go, too, and he wasted no time telling her that the last thing he needed on his first trip to Hawaii was his mom. I asked her if she sat him down and told him about how tough his birth was and we both laughed. It was just a few minutes, but it lifted my mood and probably hers.

Women’s laughter is contagious and a lot of it is inside humor. At the Gather the Women gathering at Terra Sancta near Rapid City, the organizers added a big heaping helping of humor on Saturday night. It was the kind of laughter that makes your sides ache, but I’m afraid it would lose too much in the translation if I described it. Scroll back through time on Facebook to September 23, 2013 to catch the video. It still makes me smile to think about it.

Years ago, in 1999, my sister and I went to Italy together. It was a good time for me to get off work, and Kathy was getting ready to enter the order of Sinsinawa Dominican nuns in southern Wisconsin. She flew in from DesMoines, and I flew in from Juneau. It seemed like a “now or never” time to set off on an adventure together.

For the first part of the trip, we took the train to Venice, then we rented a car and I drove on highways where there didn’t appear to be any speed limit. Who really understands metrics anyway? Kathy tried to make sense of the map, and I pulled over asap whenever she sounded a tad doubtful. No fuss. No drama. Copious amounts of laughter. If we were in doubt, as we were when we saw the Wizard of Oz-style sign with all the towns and arrows, we pulled over and figured it out together.D. Ancient olive tree and Kathy Assisi 1999Italian Street Sign (2)

Kathy was very interested in cathedrals and the Italian saints. We went to Assisi and walked in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi. Kathy went a step further, so to speak, and explored the nexus of an ancient olive tree. It didn’t take me long to figure out that doors opened for us whenever I pointed to Kathy and said, “Soura Dominicana”.

My favorite story took place in Pisa. I had been to Europe before, but Kathy hadn’t. We had experienced all kinds of toilet setups by the time we got to Pisa, including having a man repairing a sink in the women’s restroom early on in the trip. No sign. No fuss. We tried to act cool. When we got to Pisa, naturally we headed for the bathroom first. Talking a mile a minute to Kathy in the next stall, I reached up and pulled the chain to flush the toilet. Nothing happened. I pulled harder. Still nothing. I yanked at it and flakes of wood fell in my hair. I glanced up and realized I was pulling the window right out of the wall. It still makes me laugh to think about it.

So, thank you to the Gather the Women Conveners who made us laugh so hard we cried happy tears. Our gathering in Florida is a whole year away, but I’m already looking forward to the laughter!

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