Grateful for Oranges | Teen Ink

Grateful for Oranges MAG

January 1, 2023
By efaithm PLATINUM, White Plains, New York
efaithm PLATINUM, White Plains, New York
21 articles 0 photos 0 comments

I am grateful for oranges.

Oranges have always been my favorite. They are sweet, but not too sweet. Juicy, but not too juicy. And despite the pieces that inevitably stick underneath my fingernails, making my whole hands smell like oranges, peeling them is the best part. Harder than simply cutting with a knife, but so much better.

An innate overthinker, I’ve always adored the natural metaphor of oranges. Tough on the outside, sweet on the inside. Just like life. They are seemingly mundane, simple, basic. Oranges are everywhere: in the supermarket, in the juice in the fridge. And yet, they are magical.

Most of my childhood memories are stained with citrus. Memories of orange smiles in Chinese restaurants, the sweet sting of juice that would explode in my mouth as I’d pierce the fruit with my teeth, while it would sit in my mouth, a fake and silly smile that every child did when granted the opportunity. Memories of my mother setting a cup of freshly squeezed orange juice down in front of me, love in liquid form. Memories of my grandfather carefully placing one in my hand, as he explains how supermarket fruits speak to him.

But no matter how magical a citrus-dusted childhood can seem, where there are sweet memories, there are bitter ones to accompany them. Sometimes they come after, sometimes before. Sometimes the soft moments are interwoven with bitter bites and stings.

Sometimes when I see oranges, I see myself clawing at the leathery skin ’til my fingers ache, a form of escapism from the abstract art sitting in front of me under the fluorescent lights of the middle school cafeteria. I see myself peeling and peeling and chewing and chewing so intently that I don’t have to talk to anyone. I see the black splotches of piercing mental pain spotting my vision. The heave of feeling like a shadow, a voiceless and trapped ghost.

And yet sometimes, oranges bring me back to my mother in the kitchen, orange slicing on a Sunday morning, golden rays peeking through the blinds. I see her setting some slices aside to turn to juice. I blink and there it is, poured into my favorite princess cup, set down in front of me, her sealing a kiss on my forehead as she whispers, telling me to enjoy. The pulp stings the back of my throat, making it hard to swallow. But the sips are refreshing and raw and real. And they are coated with love.

Memories are like oranges. The bitterness of an orange never nullifies the sweetness. The punch of juice wouldn’t pop as much if it weren’t for the tough outer skin. It’s common knowledge among all citrus fruit eaters that you get through the tough outer skin before you can relish in the juicy goodness on the inside. And it could not be more worth it.

Oranges are bright orbs. They are like little balls of sun on earth. And they are made even brighter by sweet memories, shadowed by bitter ones.

The author's comments:

This piece is about oranges, social anxiety, and the magic of childhood. It is about the way that something as seemingly mundane as an orange can carry the weight of a million memories.

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This article has 1 comment.

gabs_w SILVER said...
on Aug. 14 at 2:46 pm
gabs_w SILVER, Portland, Oregon
9 articles 0 photos 94 comments
This is beautiful! Great job.