Checkpoint Hibiscus

Youna Fradin

Youna Fradin

Youna Fradin is a Franco-American writer from Asheville, NC. She is a senior at UNC Chapel Hill pursuing a degree in Creative Writing. Her life’s mission is to exist in the fluid spaces where poetry, memoir, and fiction intersect, where she believes this blending of the real and surreal is vital to answering the all-consuming question of the human condition and placing the human body in the limitless natural world it exists in. When she isn’t writing, you will most likely find her in the woods with her rescue dog, a corduroy jacket, and an earful of tunes.

I take you and raise you to who you would be if I wrote about you. The way an author leaves pieces of a symbol like checkpoints, its evolution a mirror to the evolution of the character itself.

See, for me this is hibiscus. Both hibiscus rosa-sinensis and hibiscus syriacus:

The former is the tropical hibiscus, common in images of tropical paradises and California gardens. It symbolizes femininity and beauty. I remember having one in my hair when I hula danced as a child and the garden in my childhood home in San Diego, California, was bursting with blooms. When my parents divorced and passed me from house to house, my father would paint me birthday cards with hibiscus flowers on them.

The latter is the common hibiscus, found in Eurasia, even in the mountains. It symbolizes strength and immortality. A ray of light capable of withstanding the cold. I didn't know there was a difference between the two (in fact, I thought the tropical was the template). I was only a child then, I had not yet discovered my own strength. I had not yet become resilient to the insatiable wind.

By the time I discovered the common hibiscus, also known as the Althea, I had just started highschool and was visiting my dad in France. A large bush of purple flowers growing outside of the house. They were symmetrical and full and home to gentle bees. I remember the stigma leaning out of its petals, beckoning, like the finger of a child reminding me of those days when I believed in an unbroken home, unbroken love, sun-soaked everything.

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