Raising a Flag

By: Gabriela Yareliz

I was organizing my clothes and handbags, you know, for optimal use and accessibility. I am a nerd like that. Decided to store some sweaters I have had on rotation since 2020, to make room for some lesser worn items. New decade, new rituals.

As I was putting my electric heating patch thing (great for cramps) in my storage bench at the foot of my bed, I came across a little flag banner I had bought for one of my brothers for one Christmas. It says, “Be a badass.” I am ever the encouraging one, ha. I tend to buy my Christmas gifts early, and what I didn’t know when I got it was that my brother was going to take a trip and not return for a long time. He sort of just vanished, details left undiscussed and unavailable.

I remember that time really rocked me. There are times in life when one feels like one is standing on quicksand with no solid ground in sight. I never sent that gift. I had no address to send it to. (I think I just sent an Uber gift card. The irony is not lost on me). I forgot I had rolled up the little banner and stuffed it at the bottom of the bench. I know why I stuffed it there. When my hands found the crinkled plastic it is wrapped in, I swallowed hard. That dark time of uncertainty, worry and panic sort of flooded me for at least 3 seconds.

But then, I looked at it, and I smiled. I remember what I was thinking when I bought it. I believe everyone should strive to be a badass, but to be honest, not everyone is. It’s a difficult choice to make because it costs you something. I’ve been really working on the fact that the person I need to worry about right now and encourage is the person staring back at me in the mirror. I decided I am keeping the banner. I decided I earned it because I’ve clung to hope and gotten up every time this beautiful and damned life has knocked me down. (It would be inaccurate but cutesy to say it has tried to knock me down. No, it has. I have felt so shattered inside, face down on the ground). But that’s the thing about something after it falls. It has the opportunity to rise. That is what being a badass is.

Flags send messages. I used to think the boat flags were decorative, ha. (All the little colors). They aren’t. They communicate messages. So this flag, while I didn’t know it when I bought it– this one is mine.

Published by Gabriela Yareliz

Gabriela is a writer, editor and attorney. She loves the art of storytelling, and she is based in NYC.

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