A friend recently told me how much she hated Sundays when she was a child. They were long, drawn-out days of nothingness, she said, and she couldn't have imagined a time when she was in her mid-30s, and nothing would be as attractive to her after a long week of hard work than an entire Sunday spent on the couch.
I can't say as I love Sundays, myself - I'm one of those "holy shit, the weekend is just about over" people come Sunday morning. I do appreciate Sunday for what it is, though, especially these days. This may be not only because I'm older and really need a day of rest, but because Sundays are no longer the shut-down days they used to be. In the 70s, in NYC, Sunday meant everything was closed. Everything. No stores. No banks. Many restaurants were closed. And there was nothing on television, except religious programs. When I was a kid, Sundays were all about my parents working around the house with the radio blasting Carly Simon or Carol King. On a typical Sunday, my dad would be tearing down drywall or putting up shelves or laying tile. That old house was always a work in progress, and Dad changed his mind, every few days, about what the finished product should look like. Early on, he'd spent a Sunday tearing down all the closets. All of them. This didn't make my mother happy at all. He spent many, many Sundays after that trying to rectify the situation, never just owning up to the fact that it had been a very, very bad idea, in the first place. We never did get proper closets back, but the idea of them kept Dad busy for years.
Ma's work on Sundays was different. It seems to me, looking back on it, that she spent most of every Sunday either in front of the stove, over a pile of laundry, or at the ironing board. Sunday was wash day, and there was always lots of laundry in our family. In the early days, we didn't have a dryer, which meant Ma having to lean out a third story window and hang our clothes on a line. I can still remember the sound of the pulley - always squeaky. Few people had dryers back then, and backyards in Brooklyn were like little worlds unto themselves. On any given Sunday there would be no less than five or six other women on the block, or on the next block, which we shared a backyard view with, hanging laundry out to dry. They'd chat to one another across the yard. Loud, beautiful Brooklyn voices - beautiful to me, anyhow - sharing the week's news, swapping recipes, telling dirty jokes. "Carmen!" one neighbor would yell to my mother, "They've got a sale on butter at the Key Food. You want I should pick some up for you if I go this week?" "Only if it's Land o' Lakes," my mother would answer, "and tell Dominic I'm making eggplant parm for dinner. I'ma send the girls over with a plate for him."
Thinking back on it, now, I realize how different the world is today. Not just because I live in an apartment and not my family's old brownstone, or because it pretty much unheard of for anyone to not have access to a clothes dryer. It's different because our idea of a day of rest has changed radically. When I really think about, my parents didn't really have a day of rest. Not unless you count back-breaking physical labor, laundry, and cooking to be restful. We have so much more leisure time than our parents did and, yet, we're so much more lazy. Or, at least, that's my experience. I can't imagine working all week, and then spending my weekends on such hard work at home. I don't own this place, so construction projects are out of the question. I'm single, and my apartment is steps away from the laundry room, so it's easy enough to dump my one or two loads of laundry in a machine, and return to my apartment to watch a movie, play Angry Birds, call a friend...even take a nap. I don't have kids to get ready for the school week. I don't even own an iron. For people of my generation - like my friend, who looks forward to a day on the couch - Sunday really can be a lazy day of rest. No wonder it's easier to like. Still and all, I'd pay dearly for one more Sunday sitting by, listening to the squeaky pulley and the friendly gossip, while my Dad's hammer bangs away at a nail (that will probably pulled in a few weeks), as Carly Simon's You're So Vain blasts from a transistor radio.