Freak Flag

One of the things that I enjoy most about teaching, other than the ridiculously high pay, is the students and the knowledge that they share with me daily.

“We should have a parade,” he laughs, “where we all fly our freak flags high.”

Wait, what?

According to urban dictionary, the most unreliable source for understanding anything ever said or mentioned, especially slang, defines freak flag as, “Letting loose, being down with your cool self, especially in front of a group of strangers. Your inner freak, that wants to come out, but often is suppressed, from social anxiety.”

Key words and phrases: letting loose, down with your cool self, inner freak, suppressed, social anxiety.

The senior continues, “We are all freaks. Look at me. People look at me all the time and make assumptions,” referencing his vitiligo, “but I don’t care.” His fighting declaration against society’s oppressive and suppressive nature was such a profound and insightful comment for someone his age. Heck, for any age! I struggle with my ageist thinking. I know, unequivocally, that I did not have that kind of knowledge, understanding, and self-compassion at his age.

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The other day, my best friend told me he was proud of me and my blog. “You are a very guarded person, but you are opening yourself up in a way that I have never seen you do before with others. And I wanted to let you that I am proud of you for doing that,” he said while we were discussing nothing and everything simultaneously. After accepting the compliment, something that I challenge myself to do now instead of rejecting them or downplaying them, I told him, “I am running out of f**ks to give. I’m like Sonic and I don’t have any more rings.”

Explanation: Sonic was a popular sega video game that helped revolutionize the video gaming world back in the early 90s. Sonic was a blue hedgehog with fly red sneakers on a quest to collect golden rings and stop the evil, menacing Dr. Robotnik. When Sonic was hurt by an enemy, he would lose his coins. The lack of coins made Sonic vulnerable, exhibited by his pulsating or blinking avatar. After a couple seconds, he would stop and be whole again. If he was hit again, while he had no coins, he would die.

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Truthfully, I do not know why my mind instantly created an analogy featuring Sonic because I am a loyal Nintendo gamer. NES’s flagship video game, Super Mario Brothers, had a similar and superior storyline. Mario was an Italian plumber on a quest to save Princess Peach from the evil, menacing King Kooper. Along the way, he would collect gold coins, mushrooms, and wild fire flowers, all of which gave him extra powers and extra life. When he was hurt by an enemy, he would lose his recently gained power and shrink to his original size. Like Sonic, if he was hit again, while in this vulnerable state, he would die.

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I am a 28 year old black male, single father to a beautiful, intelligent fun loving five year old son. I am a son. I love my mother. I never knew my father, and somehow miss him consistently. I am a brother. I grew up in a broken home that never broke all the way. I am a teacher. I am a tattoo enthusiast. I live in the Bronx. I am a student. I have a car. I attended two Ivy League institutions. I have an apartment. I am over six feet tall. I play basketball. I like chicken. I like to cook. I rarely have food in my fridge. I am a writer. I like jazz. I like wine. I like Ciroc. I love rap. I am a friend. I analysis everything.

I am learning how to live and be comfortable in the moment, in my skin, in me.

I am learning be a Sonic with no coins or a Mario with no special powers. I am learning to raise and fly my freak flag high.

Are you?

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