Mondays can be iffy. Sunday’s podrome dates back to earliest elementary school, but not leftover fears of forgotten book reports, the looming teacher, the red pen. It’s even simpler: the growing dusk, parents calling to come in, running out of time to play. I can remember sitting inside at the kitchen table, a pool of incandescent light distant and sad as it fell over the week’s most lavish dinner. Outside, darkness wound tight coils around the house, immune to the warmth the light had given on Friday or Saturday. Get to bed, it’s a school day tomorrow. My bedroom window glass was cold, and Sunday night shapes loomed.
Later: book reports, algebra tests, college applications, those guys that promised a confrontation in the parking lot. Later still: the book you read over and over and still didn’t understand, the paper to write, how will you pay the loans off. Now: where are we? what are we doing? Every Sunday the night comes.
I’m not alone. Years of conversations with friends reveal churning stomachs, sweaty palms, time wriggling even more furiously away. A few times workmates hardly more than strangers have opened up about hanging out late at church to have just a little more time, hiding shaking hands from the family and trusting God to not let the knife slip while making dinner, crying in the shower. In grad school I worked briefly in a warehouse, where an indomitable mountain of a man told me he spent Sunday nights curled up with a full fifth of Jack Daniels and a bottle of pills. Nowadays I stop at the top of the label. When my wife and kids left I’d drink the whole thing. Got the pills one night when that wasn’t enough. Didn’t take any. Hell if I know why. They’re just a little touchstone kinda thing now, along for the ride.
He was bull rough but dog gentle. We were in the parking lot after the shift had let out, the sky sharp with stars. I told him I was dropping out of grad school and felt lost, a failure. In exchange, he told me that.
I have noticed some people who possess an insuperable happiness. They seem immune to the low-grade heebie-jeebies the rest of us know, any sense of doubt, any suspicion that things are other than they should be, or are headed there. As a kid I found such people insufferable, especially attractive girls my age: don’t you know the world is a menagerie of terrors? Have you not figured out the adults intend to throw us to it? As an adult I am kinder, having talked with a man in a warehouse parking lot. Through accident or treacly-churchy goodness, the happy people grew their brains to be happy by default. But I wonder how they fare against Sunday’s power.
It’s been a rough couple months. Meds to help the mood haven’t exactly worked out. Sundays have been a deeper grey since winter, and since popping the happy pills in April, far worse. Was it this bad in high school? Don’t remember distorted memories.
This past Sunday was not as bad. There were good conversations, some missteps, simple rudeness. Crying minimal. At home the cat looked out the window, riveted at something I could not see. I wondered if animals learned the workweek as a child. The cat did not seem bummed by Sunday.
Morning I did not think about all the childhood memories of waiting for the bus, or hanging out in the high school parking lot as long as possible, or the crush of cars or the tired faces on the bus. Everybody else and I went to work to find whatever waited for us.
I found cookies.
Good cookies, too–no failed baking experiment. They had color. Had a perennially happy person been at hand, I am sure she would have called them fun.
Monday never portended crisis or confrontation, not even exceptional effort. I faced nothing like the regular or extraordinary Monday trials of friends. But I didn’t want to face something. Instead, I faced cookies.
Mark Twain said he faced terrible calamities, a few of which actually happened. We all do. I got a cookie for facing mine.