How I Learned Church

Sunday is the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As far as days of the week are concerned, Sunday is the difference. You can just feel a Sunday without much effort, in much the same way a singer can identify a pitch out of thin air. Whereas Michael Corleone’s first wife- the lovely Apollonia- easily confused the other six days of the week with their bunkmates, she always nailed the one day that was common language, from Sicily to Flatbush.

When I was ten years old, I was an awkward mess of buckteeth and bushy hair and the most geometrically absurd pair of glasses. I was shy, painfully so. If shyness had been a contest, my closet would’ve been full of blue ribbons. The safe haven for me came in the form of books and baseball and music. I could lock the rest of the great big world out of my room and daydream about a future time and place when I wouldn’t feel so out of place.

These love affairs in miniature gifted me liberty from my clumsy toiling through all the nascent lessons my too young self couldn’t yet grasp. My habits were the better chances, delivered from the mysterious belly of a universe whose plans for me were kept in escrow until I grew out of my sad little britches. And Sunday was when all my hopes and dreams came calling, in peaceful little drips.

I happened to be a fledgling explorer when it came to the religion of Café con leche. My method was equal parts a charming ignorance and an earnest deconstruction; I possessed a rudimentary blueprint that substituted espresso with Folgers and scalding hot milk with a cold, heavily sugared alternative. If you grow up with any kind of Latin influence, you understand your serving sizes when it comes to sugar as heaping and diabetic. It’s how I stayed honest enough to the recipe.

I’d tote the brimming mug back to my room and then get lost in the brilliant math of a morning after baseball box-score. I sipped at my Café and pored over the out of town scores before fixing on the exploits of my Yankees. Bucky, Willie and Blair more often than not took the collar and that was alright since defense was their bread and butter. Nettles and Chambliss and Rivers were always good for the rest of it. And then there was Reggie, who served as the front man for a band of talented miscreants. I imagined his murderously quick wrists turning on a hanging fastball inside his church as the congregation roared its approval.

It was during this time when I kinda felt as if Sunday had been created just so’s Lionel Richie could sing his love letter on the radio. I would listen closely to try and hear that intoxicating scratch as the stylus teased vinyl before diving in. In a world full of sophisticated complications, this was one I never got tired of knowing. My senses crushed on that sound.

They still do.