Today’s ‘Notes from Eugene’ is entitled: Ode to a dandelion on Mill Street. Here was a moment, and nothing else. You grew out of a crack in the sidewalk. Soft yellow petals, hardy jagged leaves. Glowing from a shaft of light in the clouds, a tiny traffic sign telling us to watch out – life is here. That was the beginning of the story, but then there was more.
A small child was digging you out of the crack. The mission, putting you in a rinsed-out mayonnaise jar half-filled with dirt. Both of you struggling to survive and thrive in a place where you had no business doing either. Somehow both of you to be a source of otherwise non-existent joy.
I saw you both, unlikely friends and improbable partners. But the child saw you, and you saw the child. You would grow together, putting down roots and teaching each other the value of resilience and resolve. There is the child, fifteen years from now, a bright shining star. Stories of persistence and patience from a flower no one else cared to see.
Crash. The future was over before it started. Mom grabbed the jar from reaching fingers – no room in her life for a useless flower in a useless jar. The child’s dreams dunked into the garbage can with unerring accuracy. Tears shattered by poverty-sharpened rage. Why are you crying? What do you care, it’s just a stupid flower. Boys don’t grow flowers. C’mon – we’re going to be late. Love, joy, curiosity crushed out of existence as quickly as they began.
Part of me wonders if the boy will remember the source of his rage and cruelty when he’s old enough to inflict some of his own. I wonder if mom will remember how exactly their damaged relationship came to be damaged. The unmistakable cost of discarding emotions like forgotten stuffed animals. I can’t stop the future, but I can tell you how we go there.