Today was the third Sunday I visited a church service. A good friend and her family had invited us again to theirs. They picked us up and drove us there- and Audrey seems to really enjoy the Sunday school class- she has no problem going by herself.
I thought I’d appreciate the more liturgical, traditional service at this Presbyterian church, but it turns out the Upper West Side culture of it is not quite suitable either. It feels like everyone there is just so comfortable and kind of proud of themselves too- for their Sunday routine of church and muffins and coffee afterwards. It also feels like there’s a certain polite face you must wear. What would these people do if I started crying and sobbing during one of the hymns while the classically trained singer is standing up there with a smile on her face?
When we walked in, I noticed right away the music for today centered around a cellist. He looked skinny and boring to me. I pictured you up there instead- so comfortable-looking with that cello resting on your knees…giving me that quick smile with your teeth pressed together. I could see you there- envision you instead of the boring guy with the button down shirt and tapered pants. He seemed like he was accentuating the finger movements too to appear more “musical”- you never did that- you made it look effortless instead.
I walked behind my friend’s husband and another friend from college we ran into- two Korean men- so I guess the person seating people in the pews assumed I wasn’t with them. “Are you a single?” she practically grabbed me and asked. “No, I’m with them.” I answered sharply.
After a few opening hymns and prayers, I had to excuse myself. I was crying and trying to hold it in, and I think I could’ve if I really tried, but I didn’t feel like it. If I do, it’ll just come out later and probably be worse. I was going to go to the restroom but instead found myself heading outside, crossing the street and overlooking Central Park. I leaned on the concrete wall there covered in bird shit, eyeing the park we both loved. “This can’t be. This can’t be happening.” I cried. It felt safer to cry with passerby’s, tourists, and a few derelicts on the benches nearby than it did in a church service- that can’t be good. I realized how much I missed your affection and comfort. It feels like nothing will comfort me but you yourself. I silently prayed that someone, preferably a man, would just give me a hug today. I sat on a bench for a few minutes thinking maybe God would send someone right then…even a stranger who would say, “Hey, you look sad. Can I give you a hug?” But no one did. So I headed back inside.
Strangely now, this qualifies as a nice day. We went to a bookstore afterwards and then to lunch. Then my friend’s husband helped me put together the dining table I got from IKEA. I noticed that I am not the only one craving the comfort of a man- Audrey wouldn’t stop saying her Uncle’s name, running to him, looking for him, smiling as she watched him play with his own daughters throughout the day. I would walk away so that she wouldn’t be distracted by me and watch her from afar- the look on her face…I worry about her. I worry about this void and how she will fill it in a healthy way.
Tonight she insisted we open “Appa’s cello” and so I did. I took out the cello and sat and we both played it a little bit with the bow. She said, “looks like appa!” excitedly, and I said, “Yes, we do…we look like Appa.”