Yesterday, I tried—in vain—to recreate a Sunday from childhood passed. I woke up in time to choose a proper outfit for the Episcopals and drink my cup of coffee (2% milk, sugar) and listen to the Top 40 Radio Countdown. Ryan Seacrest has replaced Casey Cassum. No surprise. I already knew such. But, somehow, I resent the change on this particular Sunday morning.
“I refuse to arrive after the first hymn, young lady, let’s go!” Mamma should have said, urging me to put down the mascara wand and totter out the door in my kitten heels. But, she’s not there so I leave late and blister my feet as I run past W. 3rd Street, through the arch of Washington Square and onto Lower 5th.
The service: lovely choral pieces, the priest admits he’s gay, heads shake in disapproval, smiles tweak the lips of the younger set, I’m asked to tithe (“10% of what income?” I wonder). Ninety minutes later I’m back outside in the city air. I decide that the coffee hour in the Parish Hall would just be too much. Back home, that’s where I would gossip with friends, whisper in my sister’s ear about someone’s tacky outfit, ask Mamma to take us to an expensive restaurant instead of back to Granddaddy’s house for the usual repast of oxtail soup and collard greens.
I take myself out to Sunday lunch on Clinton Street. The line wraps around the little bakery/cafe so I’m forced to stand outside and look at the couples and the strollers and the men that parade their Maltipoos around on pink leashes. I pull out Carole Radzwill’s memoir, “What Remains” and lose myself in her story of cancer, frustration, love and loss.
When I’m finally ushered inside (“Table for ONE,” the waitress says, as if I’m a waste of space) and the plate of roast pork arrives, I don’t care anymore. Nothing has been recreated. Sunday memories are sullied. I learn the lesson of never going back. I wish that I had never complained all those years. I wish that I had left the house on time. I wish that I had enjoyed my collard greens and asked for more. Please.