As a kid, Sunday meant church — Catholic Mass, usually the 9am service at the modern chapel attached to the K-8 grammar school I soldiered through for half a decade. In smothering heat and piercing cold, our family of six shoehorned into a minivan smelling of Lifesaver mints and drove 15 minutes down Route 24 to be saved. A seventh of my life spent breathing stifled ecclesiastics and shaking hands with strangers, and by 15 it meant nothing to me. I don’t think the Church made me hate Sundays, but it certainly didn’t help.
This is not a story about religious disillusionment any more than all stories are about religious disillusionment, at least a little bit. No matter at which altar you worship — kale, Oxycontin, Nike — Sunday is the end of the weekend, a moment awash in the biblical vocabulary of Eden & purgatory, sin & redemption, heaven & hell. Can you believe in the devil, but not a god? On a Sunday afternoon in the dead of February, when the sun hangs weak and yellow in the steel-grey sky, I can.
Over at Gawker, Dayna Evans bravely examined her own battle against the seasonal depression that swaddles her each winter in a grim blanket. I wish more people could speak so frankly about seasonal depression. I didn’t bring Evans’ article up just to dismiss it (you should read it), but I’m not talking about seasonal depression. Winter isn’t the reason I hate Sundays, but like Catholicism, it certainly doesn’t help either.
Monday’s misery is easy. It’s emails that don’t stop, treadmills that won’t start, commutes that never end. I can comprehend Mondays, and I can beat them. But I don’t understand Sunday’s anguish. How can I defeat something I don’t understand? So no matter how many Mondays I meet head-on, six days later I’ll slide headfirst into the hazy slough of Sunday despond. I’ll skate through apprehensively, wondering how I got there, and what “there” even is. It could be thebooze, or the exhaustion, or the creeping awareness that my twenties are on the wane. It could be all of those things, or none of them.
I know what “there” looks like. It’s a boyfriend & girlfriend in sweatpants eating pad Thai & watch Netflix behind closed doors. They’re happy with each other but unhappy with themselves. That’s Sunday: an imprecise malaise borne of the quivering uncertainty that walks hand in hand with every hangover you’ve ever had.
Sunday is uncertain. There’s something just over the horizon, hidden equally by the curvature of the earth and the plodding second hand on your watch. At this cusp, vacuous musings gather speed and become vast existential crises, then fracture back to mundane slivers just as quickly. Did I turn lock the door? Am I living the life I’m meant to? I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow. No one engages in introspection this unhinged at the beginning of something. Sunday is the hospital bed we lay in each week, reflecting on a life lived in six days while preparing to do it all over again.
After living through 26 years of this dull, recoverable weekly anguish, I have an idea. Ban Sundays. Rewrite the calendars. Let one week ooze into another without crossing the bleak no-man’s-land that currently separates Saturday & Monday. It’s a radical proposal, I know. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and there’s no more punctual desperation than the one that’s delivered to my doorstep each week like a Sunday paper. Desperate times call for Lifesaver mints and shaking hands with strangers. Desperate times call for a religion, even if it’s just there to become disillusioned with once Monday morning arrives.
Originally published at fiveoclock.harrys.com. Illustration by Tim Lahan