The Student News Site of Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts Full Day




A personal essay by Cameron Coston.

 “Can I?” 

“Yeah, go ahead” 

I ran ahead from where my parents stood, grabbing at the small dandelion tufts growing in the cracks of the sidewalk. The yellow flowers had bloomed into their (white fluff) pappi stage, and were irresistible to kid me. I loved watching the pale petals fly in the wind, graceful as small swans. As I blew on the white tufts, I wondered where each seed would end up, drifting in different directions as far as the eye could see. They all came from the same flower, and yet could end up halfway across the world, or in the next yard over. No matter where they ended up, they would take root and thrive despite the conditions. 


          I can’t really remember a time period in my life where I wasn’t taking care of my family. Being homeschooled during my formative years was isolating, the only people I spoke to on a regular basis were my family. Because my parents had work, my siblings and I were often responsible for ourselves. Cleaning the kitchen with soaked shirts and suds decorating the tiles, watching PBS kids in the oppressive afternoon heat; we did anything to escape the boredom of being cooped up for months at a time. 


      Things changed when I was 12 and my parents started to split up. I spent that year sleeping in a small, stifling attic on one mattress with four of my siblings, overhearing my parents’ arguments through painfully thin walls. Movie nights were interrupted by my father coming home irritable, picking fights with my mother over trivial things. I came home from school to invaded privacy and constant fights with my parents, until my mother finally decided to leave my father for good.


     When they divorced, we all chose to live with my mom full time. We moved to a beige townhouse rife with rickety old floorboards and the smell of dusty rooms. That time was filled with week-long sleepovers, popsicles and sticky hands, trips to the corner store across hot concrete, and nights on the roof filled with snacks and laughter; it was the happiest I could ever remember being. 


However, things changed again when my father found out where we lived. He would show up at our house, demanding to see us and talk to our mother, even escalating to breaking one of our car door windows in the middle of the night. Understandably, my mother didn’t feel safe at home, nor the state of Virginia, so she decided to stay with my grandma in Connecticut. None of us wanted to  pack up everything and leave everyone we’ve ever known, but I think I wanted to leave least of all. The first real connection I made outside my family, my now queerplatonic partner, still lived in Virginia and I wanted nothing less than to leave. But we didn’t have a choice, so we drove to Connecticut with only a trunk full of belongings. 


Taking on more responsibility then became a necessity, especially since I was the oldest sibling and my mom was now a single mother. My grandma’s house was small, we had to cram into a stuffy attic yet again, and money became tighter then it ever was. But despite moving to a completely unfamiliar state, there were still dandelions in my grandmother’s yard.  


   “Look, I found some more over here” I exclaimed from underneath a tree in my grandma’s backyard, beckoning my sister over, “put these in the basket.” 

   My sister grinned back at me when I showed her the delicate petals in my hands. A lot of people think of dandelions as pests or weeds, but we knew that they were edible and healthy. We were collecting the flowers to make fried dandelions, dandelion-lilac syrup, and dandelion tea. 

  I sometimes wonder what it would’ve been like if we never had to leave Virginia at all. I wanted to move back for years even after we settled down here, and to some extent I still do. Family and holiday events get a lot more depressing when you don’t have much family to invite, and no money to travel. But life moves on whether you want it to or not. I’ve grown up the last 3 years in Connecticut, and I’ve always firmly believed that home isn’t a place, it’s the people you meet. Despite still feeling at home with people back in Virginia, I’ve put roots down and met people I love here too.  As I walk down a sun-warmed sidewalk, a patch of white dandelion tufts catch my eye. I pluck the flower, close my eyes and blow on it. I wonder where each seed is going to end up next.



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