Sunday Silence

December 15, 2013 at 8:15 am (Life, Memoir) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

There was a time when we had all the time in the world. There was a time when Sunday afternoons were long and endless. A time when a hour stretched out and out and out. Endless. The rest of the week, especially Monday to Friday, rolled along at a steady pace. School, Supper, Sleep. Saturday was always busy, busy, busy as we rushed  from activity (skating, tap dance lessons, music lessons, library run, shopping) to activity barely stopping to breathe. Sundays the only obligation was Church and then the rest of the day was ours alone, free and open to endless possibilities. Oh, what a relief Sundays were. Sundays we had all the time in the world.

Hoar Frost 2012

When I was young, Sunday afternoons were for visiting. Either someone would come to our place or we would go to theirs. Sunday afternoons were for tea and cookies with the Grandmas. Sunday afternoons were for quick trips out to the farm to visit cousins and climb on the gigantic rock pile and avoid the vicious geese. Sunday afternoons were for being driven one town over (only six miles) to visit mom’s best girlfriend and spend the afternoons playing paper dolls with Tammy. Sunday afternoons were for going out to visit mom’s friend on the farm, spending the afternoons reading my sister’s friend’s old copies of Seventeen and trying to make friends with their yappy little chihuahua. Yes, a chihuahua as a farm dog – he was definitely the best alarm system going. Eunice always had the corner stove on and usually there were fresh buns to slather, warm out of the stove, with butter and jam. I would hide in her daughter’s bedroom reading Seventeen dreaming of being a teenager and feeling warm, secure and safe. Is that not how one should always feel on a Sunday?

Summer Sunday afternoons were trips to the lake and cook out meals. The taste of roasted marshmallows. The feel of damp skin slowing drying . The smell of a wood campfire. The incessant buzzing of mosquitoes. Staying up late and watching the stars. Where was Orion? Endless moments of time.

We traveled so far on Sunday when we didn’t own a car.

Sunday drives – where have they gone?

Here in Saskatchewan where I grew up it seems that every small town main street is home to a Chinese cafe. Our small town was no exception. Our Chinese cafe was down the alley from the Hahn house and my best friend lived there with her mother (a widow), her grandmother (her father’s mother who only spoke Chinese) and her two younger brothers (the oldest was born in the same hospital as my younger brother just three days apart: this is how our mothers became friends. They met in the small (10 room) hospital when mothers and babies stayed in for more than a day or two). I grew up helping out at the cafe – unloading pop or running the occasional transaction through the till. My older sisters both were waitresses on and off for special events as was my best friend. I did the job once – I am a terrible waitress.

What has all this rambling to do with Sundays? Sunday afternoons my mother would go over to the cafe, it was closed on Sundays, and help with the weekly cleaning. Me and my younger brother would go along to play with our friends and visit. We would rush upstairs, the living quarters were over the cafe, and spend the afternoon playing board games usually Monopoly – which my baby brother still cheats at. As we got older, my best friend and I would congregate in the cafe and spend the afternoon playing gin rummy counting up points (a penny a point) but never collecting the winnings. My best friend moved to the city the year I moved across town, the year we both turned thirteen.

It was here I learned to love traditional Cantonese cooking. It was here I felt included as I was not rushed through the games. I am a slow thinker. I like to contemplate my moves and many people get annoyed with this. It was here I felt like I felt at home – warm, secure and safe.

The first time I left home I was twenty.

I’ve spent many Sunday afternoons since then visiting. When I lived with my older sister and her new husband I learnt to play Cribbage. During my brief Hollywood marriage my ex and I would play Scrabble on Sundays (I always lost). Montreal Sundays were spent writing with my Womyn’s group or cuddling on the couch with my boyfriend both of us engrossed in books. When I lived with my father and stepmother, they would have guests on Sundays and we would all play Scrabble – I got better at it but I still lost (I’m not competitive). I’ve traveled with my youngest half-sister to my eldest half-sister’s house and dozed dreaming half-asleep on the couch as they discussed knitting. Even now, visits home include Sunday afternoons on someone else’s couch listening to the chatter of a busy household while I’m reading.

All my life, I’ve curled up in a corner reading as life and chatter swirled around me. This is where I feel most at home. This is when I feel most warm, secure and safe.

I miss those Sunday afternoons. I miss the games. I miss the talk. I miss the company. I miss the warmth.

There was a time when we had all the time in the world. There was a time when Sunday afternoons were long and endless. A time when a hour stretched out and out and out. Endless.

There is too much silence in my life.

seeks the center
of every tree and rock,
that thing we hold closest-
the end of songs”
–   Michael McClintock, Letters in Time

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