‘An Ode to Dandelions and the In-Between’ by Eden Rosenbloom

There’s this one week in May where my all-too-comfortable corner of Montreal grows abundant with dandelions. The Yellow Week, the name under which my written recollections from the 9th up until the 15th of Taurus season were categorized under in my constellation-covered journal, contained letters of gratitude to the universe for planting the warmer tones of the colour spectrum around me. The city was painted an artificial lemon that made my glass-half-empty soul finally feel half-full. The perennials bloomed even on Sainte-Catherine Street, whose patches of unconvincing soil only existed because Montreal refuses to conform to being a true concrete forest. I see so much of my teenage self in the workings of this city, for the both of us had a constant yearning to set ourselves apart from the crowd.

The Yellow Week has always managed to thaw the memories of my seasonal depression that turned my baby blues into moribund greys. The mere scent of spring and everything after cued the honey-like trumpet in Louis Armstrong’s La Vie En Rose, and despite my mother’s idle belief that I was allergic to the dandelions, I remained consistent with pressing them into my history; chemistry; calculus; and civilizations of the Middle Ages textbooks. Even the name made me swoon — it was all so dandy.

There are only pockets of the dandy days that I retain solely from memory, untainted by the words with which I recalled them in great detail in my journals. One of these moments was during the final days of the seventh grade, which should officially be known as The Worst Year In Any Middle To Upper Class North American’s Life. Zoe and I were at my childhood park, gossiping about older girls and cute boys as we sat on top of the hill that once seemed to exist beyond the clouds, but that now gave me an underwhelming feeling of superiority, for we thought far too highly of ourselves to resort to the swing set. We spent the afternoon baking under the no-longer-absent sun, as most Canadians do the moment the temperature gage reaches anything above twelve degrees. When we finally stood up, our limbs feeling fuzzy, Zoe’s shirt was no longer the shade of white it was earlier that day, but a patchy, dandelion yellow — the hue mocked us for our naivety. We spent the evening in my bathroom, with Zoe leaning over the tub, using a bar of soap to scrub out the pollen, and me, with a blow-dryer in my hand, all in an attempt to avoid a scolding from Zoe’s mother. She yelled at her anyway.

A few years later, I was graduating high school, and that final month of government-required education filled us all up with an indescribable feeling of nostalgia that anyone over the age of 18 will undoubtedly understand. Thirty of us decided to spend a Saturday morning in the field a few blocks away from school, and despite my hostility towards the majority of my high school experience, I chose to come along. We spent the day lying on our backs, shoving vegan food into our mouths, and playing Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours out of a portable speaker. The past four years of self-doubt and insecurities was at last coming to a close, and for the first time, instead of seeking validation from those whom I considered friends merely out of convenience, I sought out comfort within myself, lying in the bed of dandelions and smiling ever so slightly because I had made it. The dandelions were always there to set me free.

I cherished them just the same in June, following their metamorphoses. In fact, I blew a wish on them every  chance I got — for new Crayola markers, ice cream after dinner, a friend to skip rope with, a passing mark on the geography test, the rain to stop, fitting into my jeans, a new puppy, the boy to love me back, getting into college, things to work out. Despite my knowing that my wish would have no impact on the inevitable reality, I adored the notion of it all — humans, no matter the age, turning to nature for a little extra help.

I loved them before and I loved them after. In their days of yellow sunshine and in their nights of making dreams come true. I will continue to love them in all of their forms, though I am most drawn to them in their in-between stage of life. In the days when they are no longer a flower but not yet a wish, when they fold up into themselves as though hugging their cores for reassurance, whispering that they matter and are loved and will someday be okay. I will always pick those dandelions first.

My favourite things have always been stuck in a state of in-between. The most rosy weeks in my life are when I don’t identify as being an introvert or an extrovert. I wait fifteen minutes for my tea to cool from the kettle, and then drink it within an exceptionally short window of time, before it has the chance to go cold. My bed is coziest when halfway made, a book is the most gripping halfway through, the sunset only intrigues me when it’s sitting half on the ocean and half beyond, as though waiting for someone to shout out “please stay” which is really an “I love you” in disguise. The beauty lies in the balance, in the in-between.

After the boy who made her feel whole again broke her heart, Harriet, a friend whose mind has always travelled in parallel to mine, wrote to me, “I cannot say that I loved him, for it is not past tense, and I cannot say that I love him, for it is not present. There is both an absence and a surplus of emotion that I cannot name in words.” Even through my iPhone speakers, I could hear the trembling in her voice that came from the confusion of her swirling in the void. She was feathered indigo, spiraling into entropy, gradually declining into disorder, while still dancing in this unidentified world of the in-between. This space had no definition.

I am most drawn to the not-yellow-nor-grey dandelions for I, too, spend most of my days as undefinable selves, no longer one thing but not yet another. These are known the in-between days. On the in-between

days, questions like “How are you?” and “Who are you?” prove themselves to be more difficult than any logarithm or confession of guilt can ever be. Like Harriet said, words are never enough, as even syllables manage to formulate an unwanted definition that leaves little room to grow.

Though I accepted my relationship with the in-between days, the world around me rejected it. I had to be happyorsad, quietorloud, boyorgirl, courageousorafraid, smartorstupid, greyoryellow. What if I wanted to be them all at once, or be none at all? What then?

As I learned to navigate myself through the fog of this indescribable uncertainty, the in-between days became the in-between life, and despite society’s resistance to it, I was okay with the void. My sensitivity has always been my most valued quality, as it has given me my heart of a double-edged sword — I experience emotions entirely, on both ends of the spectrum. I have thoughts that can color all the oceans blue. Living in a state of in-between allows me to be everything at once. My days don’t ever feel like just one hue – they can be forest green with a hint of lilac, the maroon that comes with change along with the spark-of-excitement champagne pink, or the murky brown you get when you mix all of the paint colors together. Or, a day of infinite laughter paired with the fear of punishment alongside Zoe. Or the hatred and admiration that comes with parting a version of yourself at 17. Not-yellow-not-grey.

The in-between world is painful and confusing, and it awakens an understanding of my minuteness in the grandeur of our universe, but it allows me to thrive in a world that most only skim over. I join the atoms that are swirling in the unidentified and go beyond definitions. I can be a girl painted baby blue but also made of fire. Regardless of the terror, fogginess, and doubts that come with the unknowing state, it’s uncertainty only excites me.

Perhaps I’ll always be in between grey and yellow. Perhaps during The Yellow Week, the dandelions and I will grow together without definition, catching sunshine and making wishes, creating entire worlds of our own. Perhaps the most delicate of things are often stuck in a state of in-between.

 


EDEN ROSENBLOOM is a writer currently studying Liberal Arts at Dawson College. She is in the midst of figuring out what art means to her and how she defines herself as an artist. Find her on Instagram: @earlgreyeden.

Copyright © 2018 by Eden Rosenbloom. All rights reserved.