Monday, March 7, 2011

I Used To Be Funny

NOTE: This blog was first posted on Haley Whitehall's website on March 3 when I was her guest blogger. I am reposting instead of writing something new because I have an awful cold and can think of nothing to say that does not involve whining and moaning.

Long ago, when I first went abroad, I would write hilarious emails home. Even before that, I wrote fairly funny top ten lists over whatever it was that came to mind. It seemed like no matter what I was doing, there was a comical way to look at it and I couldn’t wait to get to a computer to type out my long (overblown) email about Montezuma’s Revenge, children skidding sideways down long ski slopes into lines of people waiting for the chairlift, sheep-turd-tasting cheese or smelly persons.
In fact, I have a whole book of these stories. It’s called Confessions of a Travel Addict. It’s nearly 200 pages of funny stories about traveling abroad, and although I recognize the work as my own, I have come to the realization lately that I probably couldn’t write it again because I don’t write funny things anymore.
If it’s going to be funny now, it’s a one-line status update that has about 15 people chortling, versus emails to 50+ persons that I’d like to believe read and enjoyed them.
So, what’s changed, you ask? Well, me, obviously.
When I first revealed to one of my friends that I had written a book about my traveling, she asked, “So does it have stuff about, you know, how you felt, your emotions, the things you were going through and how you grew as a person?”
I don’t think I laughed at her, but I thought at the time that it was a stupid thing to say. Who on earth would be interested in how I felt about things? Merrily I tripped along, continuing to write funny stories with no meat to them, no context, no person behind this shadow that traipsed all over the place having mishap after mishap.
Now, I realize that there is a time and place for everything. I realize that I may be hard on myself here, but the truth was that nearly everyone who has read my book has said, “Well, there’s not really much about you, you know? Since I know you I feel like I’m taking a trip with you, but if I didn’t know you I would feel like I was missing a very essential piece of the story.”
They’re right. The book lacks substance. And suddenly, that substance is all I can come up with to blog about. Suddenly, even my funny posts don’t seem as funny. All of a sudden, I want to talk about myself in serious terms.
It may seem small to someone on the outside, but this shift seems like a monstrous chasm that has opened up in front of me. I don’t see myself as some sort of bubbly, exuberant bouncy ball ricocheting off walls and screaming “WEEEE!” until everyone wants to shoot me, but neither do I see myself as a depressive lump of coal sitting in the corner, sucking the light out of anything that comes near like a black hole. I feel both these things often – if I’m lucky, I feel these and a whole range of emotions every day – but what I feel more is the change that has come over me in regards of what I want to share. I’m no longer as interested in simply giving the funny story of what happened to the stupid gringa while skimming over how I cried when it happened. A part of me is more than a little alarmed by this. It’s no longer a game to see how loud a person will laugh; now I’m tapping something deeper and sharing because I feel like a have to, and this is what bubbles to the surface, needing to be shared.
I think one of the strangest things about this shift is that I don’t feel afraid or excited about it – I simply recognize that something has changed. I look at it objectively, like a thing that I’ve just found in my house, and I study it, knowing it has a use but not yet knowing what it is. I’d like to think that this means that I’m finally maturing to the point where I don’t feel like I have to mask my emotions and can say how I really feel, but somehow that seems very, um, mature of me, and I can’t quite believe it. So for now, I’m just going to roll with it, and hope that maybe one day I’ll get to the point where I can be funny again and meaningful, too.

Love and not so funny kisses

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