Tattoos. How do you feel about them? Hate them? Love them? Whatever about them? Well I love them- much to the chagrin of my grandmother; when I got my first tattoo she informed me I was out of the will, but thankfully my brother and my cousin V saved me from being the sole "outted" member of the family from that . . . sacred will. I'm not exactly sure what is even in the will that I am no longer getting, but all the same- I'm not getting it.
Let me clarify by saying that I am not a tattoo lover that has skulls or random pieces of ink all over my body- every piece I have is important to me, has meaning, and stands for something great that happened in my life. See, here's my take on tattoos- life is hard . . . it's beautiful, but it's hard. And I'd be willing to bet that every single one of us heads to meet our prize with more than a couple of scars . . . whether they be visible or internal. So my tattoos are reminders of scars that I bear, wounds that I've had to mend, and experiences I don't want to ever chance forgetting.
Here are the stories of my tattoos:
I got inked for the first time when I was eighteen; it is on my left wrist and is a Celtic symbol for eternity. My baby brother has the same symbol on his ribcage. Before we got this we had discussed getting something together for a long time. We knew we wanted it to mean something along the lines of eternity or unity, but we wanted it to be something we both agreed on. It basically looks like a spiral 'S' turned on its side and the inside of the front of the 'S' has a full circled curl in it. I knew I wanted it on my wrist and I chose my left as it is nearest to my heart. The story with my brother and I is interesting because before I was 15 I simply tolerated Z. But at 15 my universe was severely shaken and I realized that I needed to grow up and get over myself. Since then my brother has become my best friend- Z is the first guy I call when something goes wrong, he's one of the first people I call when something goes right, and we don't leave each other without saying 'I love you.' I actually enjoy being with Zack now; we go out together on the weekends, we see movies together, we sit down and talk to each other. When we had thrown around the idea of a tattoo we knew it needed to be eternity because we are each other's eternity. No matter where I go, who I marry, what I do- Zack is going to be one of the first calls I make, some of the first faces I frame on walls, and the only boy (to this date) that has ever loved me no matter what I do, what I say, or how I fuck up. I wanted a tattoo with my brother that meant eternity because he'll always be my brother- no matter who's dad he ends up being, who's husband he becomes, or what address he calls home- he'll be that little boy who bought me a Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal with some extra money he had that day at the mall, he'll be that football player that superseded all other football players, in my heart and mind, on the field, he'll be the man that drops what he's doing to come pick me up, defend me no matter who he may piss off, and love me no matter how much of a mess I become. When I think about eternity Zack always comes to mind.
My second tattoo is on my right wrist and I got it when I was 22. I had broken up with a guy and it was a very difficult situation- I was not handling my new found freedom well and had basically allowed myself to be in a long term funk that I'm sure was thoroughly irritating to everyone around me. Mom had talked me into attending church with her for the first time in a long time and this was the verse the message was focused on: That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. -2 Corinthians 12:10. I immediately took out my pen and underlined this in my Bible. Never in my life had I heard God speak to me so clearly than when I sat in that chair at church and read this to myself. He was talking to me, He wanted my attention, He never stopped watching me and listening to me, even when I did a complete about face to Him. After leaving church that day I knew I needed this on my body somewhere because it was what caught my attention, it was what woke me up, it was, honestly, what brought me back to life. Now that I have it, anytime I feel weak or like the world is on my shoulders, I look at my wrist, I read that verse, and I know that He is absolutely not giving me anything I can't walk out of with my head held high. If He's not challenging me or catching my attention then I'm simply not giving Him the time He deserves.
My third tattoo is on my forearm right below the crook of my elbow. I got it in Colorado with my cousin Veronica the night before she graduated from college. V has other tattoos and we had always talked about getting ink together, but as she lives in Colorado and I am in Ohio, it never worked out . . . until she invited me out for her graduation. I said yes, under one condition, that we get tattooed together. Our tattoo is 'Hephzibah' in Hebrew. Hephzibah is Biblically translated to mean "my delight is in her" and is what God used when he referred to His church and His people. It represents that pure, untethered love God has for his people. This tattoo is teal with a purple outline and has a wooden cross next to it. It serves as a reminder of the incredible love He has for me, no matter what, the amazing relationship I have, the incredibly similarities I have, the unconditional love I have for a woman who I literally am lucky to see once every two years, and it also serves to remind me of the first trip I ever took alone, after many, many years of deep, painful anxiety.
I am currently in process of saving for two more tattoos, but I'm not sharing them just yet . . . they're still under construction. Clearly, though, I really enjoy tattoos. And maybe you don't- perhaps some of you think it's a desecration to the temple my body is supposed to be for Christ; and I respect your opinions . . . I just don't agree with them. I am a writer so ink is a detrimental part of any career I forge, it is a detrimental part of any story I share, book I write, character I give birth to- so why not share some of my story on my actual canvas? Plus, I like the way that it looks on my skin, too.
We all have scars, we all have pain and lessons learned, we all have moments in our life that we hope we never forget. Some may not like tattoos, but I think they are art and my pieces of art serve as constant reminders of who I was, who I am, and who I might become.
We all have scars . . . I just want mine to remind me of what I've become- in spite of the pain.
So, whether you like tattoos, dislike tattoos, or love tattoos- I will maintain that ink is the new black.