Over the past few months, much to Maddie’s horror and Luke’s delight, I have acquired two new tattoos. The first was one I had been thinking about for the past 3 years and the second was a quickly made decision that I’m still not entirely sure about.
For years I’ve been thinking about having part of my favorite Rilke poem, Sonnets to Orpheus, II tattooed on my body:
And if the earthly no longer knows your name,
whisper to the silent earth: I’m flowing.
To the flashing water say: I am.
But all three lines couldn’t be tattooed onto my body, so I narrowed it down to the last two lines, and then I thought for about a year. One night, this summer, I ran into my friend, Gary, an excellent tattoo artist who has tattooed me before. We started talking and I told him about my idea. We were both a little boozy and by the end of the night, I had made an appointment with him for the following week. The next morning I awoke with a head ache and a vague memory of our conversation. I pulled out of my pocket Gary’s appointment card, and mortified, I called him and canceled.
The poem was once again stored in the back of my mind until I tired of it constantly swirling around my thoughts, interrupting me as I went about my day. I called Gary. Made an appointment. Sent him the poem. Received his idea. Liked it. I headed back to the tattoo chair.
The biggest decision was where to put the tattoo on my body. I knew I didn’t want it to be in a noticeable part, and at first, I had thought of putting it on my back, but it didn’t look right on my back. I asked Gary what he thought about putting it along my rib cage. “It’ll hurt,” he said. “It hurts regardless,” I responded. Gary laid the imprint on my side, and we all looked at it. I loved it. He loved it. The other tattoo guy loved it.
Thus, I got my first tattoo in 5 years.
Looks good, don’t you think?
While my side was being tattooed, Gary mentioned how much he hates my ankle tattoo. This is not a surprise; he’s hated it since he first saw it over a decade ago. I hate it too. It was a stupid tattoo I got when I was 18, and I think the day I turned 19, I started regretting it. I’ve been talking about removing it for about 15 years now, but I haven’t. And every time I put on a skirt or dress and see that stupid tattoo, I cringe.
Gary doesn’t believe in tattoo removals, but he does believe in covering up ugly tattoos, and he has covered up a stomach tattoo I had that looked pretty bad after having Maddie (looks much better now, though Gary says I’m ready for a touch up). As we talked about my stupid ankle tattoo, Gary took out an orange marker and started drawing on my ankle, showing me what he had in mind for a cover. I walked around with the drawing for a few days until I decided to just do it. As Gary said, “If you’re going to have a tattoo on your ankle, then make it a pretty one.”
It’s a beautiful tattoo and much better than my terrible original. But it’s taken me awhile to get used to. It seems so big and every time I look at my ankle, I’m caught off guard by this big, colorful tattoo.
Despite any misgivings I may have about this new tattoo, however, there’s nothing I can do about it now. This actually gives me comfort.
That’s it. No more tattoos. No more ideas mulling in my head.