It was her laugh that first caught my attention and drew me towards her. I was driving to work listening to a podcast when this full, hearty laugh came through the speakers and caught my attention. I had not been actively listening and had to skip back to discover to whom this wonderful laugh belonged. It was Elizabeth Gilbert, Liz to her family, friends, and fans. How had I not heard of this wonderful author who had written the likes of Eat, Pray, Love. Well, I was smitten. From that point forward she kept popping up in my life promoting her newest book Big Magic. And I knew her, every time, by her laugh.
A few weeks later I heard she was speaking in Tallahassee, Florida, a mere six hours away. I hit my mom up to see if she was down for an adventure on a dime. I absolutely love a good road trip. This was going to be a slam bam thank you ma’am kind of trip. The conference was Tuesday night and I had to be rested and ready for work by early Thursday morning. We figured that gave us a solid thirty-six hours at our disposal.
We were on the road by six a.m. Tuesday morning with a loaded cooler and hot coffee in our hands. The plan was to hit a beach for a couple of hours before heading to Tallahassee to meet our Airbnb host and drop our bags off at our room. We would attend the conference at seven that night and visit St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge on the way home the next day.
Liz must have infected us with her laughter because their was no shortage of it on this trip. My mom and I talked and we laughed. We ate bags of salty sunflower seeds and drank delicious black coffee. I got to feel like a twelve year old again as my mom watched me skim board at the beach and cheered me on like any good mother of a thirty year old would do. We stood in awe of nature at St. Marks and were mesmerized by Liz Gilbert. We discovered our mutual love for belting out songs to the chagrin of my older brother and many elementary school choir teachers. We saw alligators and snapping turtles. We dug our toes in the sand, pounded the sidewalks of Tallahassee, and explored the coastal marshes of Apalachee Bay. And we laughed, oh, did we laugh!
It is funny what becomes of a laugh. Liz’s freeing and unrestrained laugh one morning on a podcast infected me. It swelled and grew inside me. It led me to thirty-six hours of laughter and mirth with my mom. It spilled out of my own body as I traveled to the coast and back to hear a magnificent woman speak. I gave it back to her that night in thanks for sharing her stories and wisdom. But I kept a little for myself. It lives on as a joyful memory of a fun-filled road trip with my mom where we belly laughed until we cried.
Infect others with your laughter. It’s a contagion worth spreading, and the best form of medicine.
“Be the weirdo who dares to enjoy.” —Elizabeth Gilbert