Funny little story about Paula Poundstone for Alison…
My mother came to the island two days after Nick died. After the funeral and other duties she began helping me sort and pack up our belongings to ship back to the U.S. She left in July, leaving me with the final bits and bobs to sort…. The bathroom was one of the last rooms to deal with.
It was a miserable, grueling hot day— the Mediterranean sun brutally bouncing off the waves and there wasn’t much of a breeze. I remember this because it was cooler in the bathroom—all tile and no direct sun ever reached it through the well-window [those who have lived in apartments in Europe know what type of tiny windows bathrooms have].
It was a painful process— going through our things, Nick’s things— his comb, hair elastics with his soft hair still entwined about them, his deodorant and cologne… As Proust elucidated, the sense of smell is the most powerful of senses and ties us in emotionally, so it was agony to have little wafts of his smell come to me as I packed these items into bags. I couldn’t throw them all away— I cannot give any valid reason other than: I couldn’t.
It was emotionally draining. So I would take breaks and sit at Nick’s desk— he, being a musician, and needing excellent sound, had massive speakers attached to his computer—so I would sit in his chair and listen to downloaded old episodes of “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.” Then go back to work in the bathroom.
The show had recently been in California and the “Not my job” guest was Michael Pollan. If anyone needs a good laugh, find that episode.
I sat there in Nick’s high-backed chair and laughed so hard I was weeping. For the first time in two months I was weeping out of laughter and it helped me so very much.
It helped me so much that I dried my eyes, and still giggling I did a little Google search and emailed Paula Poundstone. I explained what had just happened and that at that moment, I have never been more thankful for another human being as I was for Paula making me laugh at that moment, that day.
I never really expected to hear back from her— I assumed her people would write back a thank you for writing to Paula… But a day or two later, I got a note from Paula, expressing her condolences and thanking me for taking the time in my mourning to write her, and that she, too, felt that laughter was the best therapy.
So again, thank you Paula— and everyone who has made me laugh since.