Back when I was living in Texas and was freshly divorced from my first husband, I became friendly with a wonderful woman of many talents. At the time she owned and was an artist in a tattoo studio, and her work was amazing. She herself had one of her legs inked from thigh to ankle with one of the most beautiful flora and fauna tattoos I’ve ever seen. It was as colorful as a rain forest, full of gorgeous flowers and lovely trees trailing long skeins of vines, with little fairies peeking out here and there.
I began to see tattoos in a new light; as another way of self-expression. I was working in a large tech firm back then, and many people there sported quite visible tattoos, so I began asking people about them. I had never considered a tattoo for myself, and was interested to know how people came to the decision to get one. I learned about a young woman who had lost both breasts to cancer, and decided that her newly-flat chest was a canvas to be filled with something beautiful. Her choice was an exquisite vine with tiny leaves and even tinier blossoms that curled from both armpits and all across her chest. She said that it made her feel pretty to wear this art where once disease had claimed her body. It was, pure and simple, an expression of triumph and hope.
A man who worked in the graphics department has dozens of tattoos, the most amazing of which was a Bengal tiger. The tiger’s head was positioned right over his heart, and the body of it curled over his shoulder to his back, where the tiger’s tail was. He admitted that that much work took several sessions, and he said that the closer to the bone a tattoo is, the more painful it is. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I know now that I was doing research so that I too would eventually get my own tattoo.
Now I will admit that I judge others. I’m not proud of it, and I do try to keep an open mind. However, when I began to get to know people wearing a lot of ink, I realized that my initial impression was not always the right one. When a person has a tattoo in a visible spot, you often can’t help making a judgement about that person. I know it isn’t right, but there you are–human nature at perhaps not its finest. I found I had to admire those who committed their bodies to large and/or visible ink, and began to understand how little I knew about about people in general.
It took me nearly a year to commit to getting my own tattoo. I went to my friend the tattoo artist and discussed tattoos in general. She told me why she chose hers, and what her ink meant to her. I was still stinging from my recent divorce and had been through the various stages of the emotions you go through:
- The “you bastard, how could you do this me?” stage
- The “how could you cheat on me and then lie about it?” stage
- The “I hope you get run over by a Mack truck” stage
- The “you are a despicable human being” stage
…all the way to the final “I really don’t care what happens to you–I’m moving on with my life now–buh-bye” stage. (And BTW–you know it’s really over when you just don’t care any more.) One of the many things my first husband griped about (and oh, there were soooo many!) was people who had tattoos. He was vehemently against them and thought that anyone who had them was just not the “right” sort of person.
I think you can see where I’m going with this. My final *KMA-to-my-divorce-moment came when I walked into my friend’s studio and told her what I wanted, and could she do it right then before I lost my nerve? Luckily she could. I now have a perfectly darling little rose-red heart about the size of a dime tattooed in a place where only a select few may see it. Oh, and in case you are wondering what it feels like–it feels a lot like a persistent mosquito; sort of an itchy/stingy (but not terribly painful) feeling.
That was over 15 years ago, and I have never regretted it. In fact, from time to time I think about getting another one. I am too chicken to have one in an obvious place, but there is still a lot of real estate left for another one…I’ll keep you posted.
To all those brave and amazing people who proudly wear their ink with style and grace, I salute you–you are all fabulous!
*Kiss My A**