This is the kind of book I love. Short, quick stories compiled in one place about life. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I feel like I know Shauna Niequist, the author of Cold Tangerines, because I found a lot of similarities in the things she wrote about and the thoughts she shared with the things that are in my life. And I want to be her neighbor.
(Random side note: while looking for a cover picture, I came across her blog. I didn’t spend much time on it, but I did bookmark it to come back to it later. Because of the little I did read, I loved. And she’s since written another book, Bittersweet, which is now on my list to buy. Check her out here.)
This is a book I picked up in New Orleans when we were visiting our friends Aaron, Shauna, and Abbey in March of 2008. And since then, I’ve probably read it five times. Just long enough between readings to not remember quite what the story is about. And each time I fall in love all over again.
This last time I read it, I was pregnant with Harper. This passage summed up perfectly how I have felt while pregnant (both times). It’s such a consuming thing, pregnancy, that I don’t think I could ever put into words what it’s like. But Niequist came pretty close.
Here she is talking about being pregnant with her first child, a son, named Henry.
“I felt powerful and powerless in the same instant, full of rabid, crushing love, and also small and out of control and scared for all the life that my son will have to live without my protection. Parenting for me feels like a love so big I can’t manage it, a force so visceral I can’t contain it.
I know that when Henry is born, I will change his diapers and feed him and keep him clean and warm. Those are physical things I can do for him. But what I want to do for him takes my breath away. I want to twist and remake the world around his little self, to shine it up and rearrange it and make it great and special for him. I want to walk ahead of him, making sure things are safe, and walk behind him, keeping an eye on him. I want every day of his life to be happy, and I feel like I could move the sun with the intensity I feel. I knew that a baby would be vulnerable and would need my protection, physically and otherwise. But what I know now as I watch my mother is that it doesn’t matter how big a son gets, a mother always feels, however illogically, that she should have been there to save him from whatever it was that hurt him.”
Her words are powerful and her logic, while sometimes crazy, is completely understandable. This is a book worth reading, and then reading again, because it seems to get more beautiful each time.