…I realized for the first time that no matter what the judge said, no matter how much we all might like it differently, our parents, our loved ones, are not ours forever, and we are not theirs to keep. There is always a chink in the armor, and unraveling of the ties, we are always at last on our own. As a result, I find it difficult to believe in marriage, to make that commitment towards a future that I know so little about, to trust in a person I can know only remotely, to trust that person will care for me, look after me. It is not that I don’t believe in love-I do, I do. But, I know that if you were to ask me, I would tell you-I am just looking after Pigeon. (p. 180)
I don’t know if it’s a fear common among children to dread being left, or just one particular to me. But, it was a very real fear in my life, and it will sometimes surface again if I’m not careful to push it down. Because I don’t think we can ever truly discard childhood wounds once they’ve been inflicted.
Such is the case with Pigeon. At the age of five her father leaves their family, and although her voice is very mature, it’s clear to see the pain she is suffering at his absence. Pigeon, with her older sister, Dove, and older brother, Robin, move into her Uncle Edward’s house on the Jersey boardwalk; it is where their mother takes them when she must abandon the apartment the family had lived in.
The smells of Coney dogs, salt water taffy, coconut suntan oil, and the sounds of crowds on the beach do little to assuage Pigeon’s feelings. She is certain that someday her father will return. And her hope, unrealistic but undaunted, made me hope just as hard that he would.
I cried while reading this book. I’m crying now.
At first, I was annoyed that Pigeon’s character is mature beyond her years. She seems to be feeling and thinking things that are clearly through an adult’s eyes. But, she is telling the story in retrospect, and her insights about family, life and love moved me deeply.
I’m thinking about the quote at the top of this post…when abandoned as a child, we must make the decision whether we can trust again. It seems safest to barricade ourselves behind walls of non-commitment. But, I disagree with Pigeon. I don’t believe that by staying single we stay safe. Safety is not possible in this word, alone or linked with a soul mate.
While Pigeon is looking back on the summer she experienced at age 5, and taking us right back to it with her, I found myself revisiting similar age old issues. Control. Trust. Disappointment. Imperfections from those we love. They are all a part of growing up; a part of learning how to take care of others as we look after ourselves.
Other TLC tour stops include:
Monday, October 19th – A Sea of Books
Tuesday, October 27th – Literate Housewife
Thursday, October 29th – Steph and Tony Investigate
Monday, November 2nd – A Reader’s Journal
Tuesday, November 3rd – The Scholastic Scribe
Wednesday, November 4th – Raging Bibliomania
Monday, November 9th – Clever Girl Goes Blog
Tuesday, November 10th – Book Club Classics
Thursday, November 11th – Caribousmom