How quickly things change, but how slow it can be to accept.
Sundays used to be for tradition, routine. The alarm would often wake me before the sun, and I did my best to pull my body out of bed without snoozing. I don’t always like showering in the mornings but sometimes it’s the only way to feel alive. The getting-ready-for-the-day is the thing I least enjoy about every day, and I have to do things in the same order so I won’t forget a step. It always takes me longer than I plan. I used to be the one everyone had to wait on to leave the house. My parents would tease me about how long it took me to do my hair. Now I try to do as little to my hair as possible. I don’t want to be the one everyone is waiting on.
But there is no one waiting for me anymore.
Some Sundays I would find myself on a platform, standing behind a microphone hours before anyone would arrive. These were my favorite Sundays. Getting ready was never as annoying when my day involved singing. I remember the faces in the dark room, their eyes watching me, and the clapping. Strangers would approach me with kindness creasing their mouths in thanks. I would always dismiss the compliments with a shake of my head, because it’s sinful to be proud.
Sundays were for tuning in to a single station and sharing an hour-long experience. Something we could reflect on and talk about later, maybe over lunch if I wasn’t too exhausted from forcing soft smiles and hugging necks and offering advice. I was always looking at my calendar, scheduling time for someone who needed me. And then I would sneak to the bathroom when everyone was occupied and sit on the toilet wondering when I’d get to be home alone, curled up on the couch with a book, a fire in the fireplace, and too much whiskey.
Sundays were for drop-ins. The doorbell would ring and I would freeze, willing my brain to forget the sound so when I’d say later that I didn’t hear whoever was at the door, it wouldn’t really be a lie. Sometimes food would be left on the porch, wrapped in plastic on paper plates. One of the neighbors even planted trees in our yard for us because we’d lived in the house a year and the yard was still a block of concrete and untended dirt. There were so many nice people, and I always felt bad to accept anything from them.
Sunday nights my living room was often packed with young, almost always single women. We’d eat light snacks, drink appropriate beverages at responsible levels, and I would lead a conversation that was supposed to be spiritual. I never prepped for these things. I couldn’t be bothered to use my free time studying. I was just never really good at it. But asking questions is easy, so I would do my teaching by letting the women decide their own answers. I was never married to the outcome. They could do whatever they wanted.
I remember sneaking outside late one night, backing myself into the corner of our wooden fence and crouching down with my knees bent against my chest. I wanted to smoke a cigarette, just because I could, but I didn’t want anyone to see me. I felt like a prisoner who was always free to go but was too stubborn to admit I couldn’t live that way; failing at the thing everyone was watching me do, too scary.
That was Sundays four years ago. There is no tradition now, no platform or groups of people to lose myself in. I probably shouldn’t be giving advice to anyone these days, and if I wanted to smoke a cigarette I wouldn’t need to hide. Nobody is leaving cookies at my door or offering to garden my yard. I don’t have a yard to garden anyway.
Sundays, now, are for sleeping in late and reading in bed until my legs are too restless. Sometimes I walk up the hill to the Farmer’s Market and watch people. Sometimes I get breakfast alone, with a book and a journal, and sometimes a friend joins me at the record store to eat eggs and recount his late night and make subtle glances toward the girl with the gold weaved in her hair that he likes. Sometimes I buy myself flowers and take myself on a walk by the water. Most Sundays I am alone, and on those Sundays I play a game with myself to see how long I can go without opening my mouth to speak to another person.
Sundays have always been the day where I do repetitive things to anchor myself before the work week begins. Sometimes they are painfully slow and other times I wonder where the day went.
On Sundays, nobody is watching me, but I still feel the eyes as if they are.