The Sweet Collapse

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There is a taste I associate with Sunday more than any other.

It is not the dry bread on my tongue, or the burn of red wine on an empty stomach. Those bits of sustenance I reserve for a different category, one of feeling rather than taste. No, to me the taste of Sunday must be soft, round, and sugar glazed.

As kids, we traipsed through the aisles of the local Food Lion after Sunday morning mass, waving at the other parishioners we had seen only minutes before and ignoring our mother’s warning to not ask for anything. We would stop and stare at the display of donuts, eyeing the garish sprinkles and the drips of chocolate glaze landing on the parchment paper below.

On road trips, my mother always had one eye out for a bakery. It had to be the right type, of course, a quaint place boasting artisanal delicacies and old men who sit at their designated tables to read the paper and sip black coffee day after day. Here we found sticky delights filled with homemade raspberry jelly.

In the summer, my sisters and I would retreat to my grandparent’s house for a week at a time, where we would find a pantry filled with cartoon covered boxes of cereal and Little Debbie donut sticks. The sugar stuck to the roof of my mouth for the entire week as we played dress up in my grandmother’s clothes and rode roller coasters at amusement parks that have long since shut their doors.

When I was 22 I moved across the country in search of the same things every young wanderer is looking for. I lived with other twenty somethings in a house named after a saint called Oscar who died serving the poor. During the week we worked at homeless shelters and schools, and ate our dinner served in chipped casserole pans off of mismatched plates. On Saturdays we drove our bikes into the night to drink cheap beer at local bars, and on Sunday mornings we took our hangovers to church.

It was a church the way churches should be. Outside the building, the flowers were immaculate, inside the carpet was green and badly outdated. Families filled the pews, those who had driven there in American made minivans, and those who had arrived in the middle of the night decades ago, illegally as refugees. Members of a L’Arche community sang the songs proudly, and homeless men loitered outside. A sign above the doors that lead out of the church read, “Servant’s Entrance.”

Afterwards we headed over to the parish hall to eat donuts. A Guatemalan woman sold pupusas and tamales while children ran rampant, sneaking extra donuts when their parents turned to socialize.

I poured myself a cup of coffee, and sat on a folding chair at the long table surrounded by friends, some I knew and some I did not. I bit into the donut, relishing the bun’s sweet collapse. It was the end of one week, and the beginning of another.

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