I love tattoos. I love them so much. I love chicks with tattoos — they’re so cool looking.
I have a few tattoos, but I intentionally got them in places where they could be hidden — first because I was a kid living with my parents and didn’t want to see the look on my poor mom’s face when she saw it, and later because I had to have a job and was worried about what prospective employers might think. But I recently committed what some would call career suicide by walking away from a perfectly good (yet perfectly boring, mind-numbing, and soul-sucking) job to pursue something I haven’t even fully defined yet. Personally, I think accepting that job in the first place felt like suicide. But this? This feels like resurrection. And yes, it provides opportunities and freedoms that I’ve been wanting for some time. That includes tattooing.
Now that I have the freedom to do it, I’m at risk of going off the deep end. I already wanted this circuit heart on my forearm and was thinking of using some of my sister’s art work to create a half sleeve. Plus, I want the first yoga sutra somewhere, probably on my back so I don’t have to constantly answer curious people who want to know what it means. I don’t like explaining myself, especially to strangers.
All these tattoos have some personal significance in addition to the aesthetic appeal. However, the other day, I got my first impulse to get a tattoo just because. And you won’t believe what it is … it’s kind awful.
I want the Hello Kitty logo from the Sanrio store bag.
Sooooo cute, right? Also totally awful, right? Ugh. I’m completely torn. I mean, who does that?
Hipster kids do it in Brooklyn and Austin, and I’m not one of them, not that I’m a hipster hater but that I sincerely am not that cool … or that young. I turn 30 in a few months. I’m too old to get a tattoo that’s ironic or “just because.” I’m too close to that age at which things actually start to wrinkle and sag, and as much as my ingrained insecurities already have me critiquing my flabby bits, just think about 10 years from now. I’ll be 40. FORTY!
You can’t have a Hello Kitty tattoo when you’re 40. Except that, actually, you can. I can. And no one can stop me. They can judge me all they want, but I should be used to that by now. That is, I fully expect to be judged for everything I do, say, and think (oh, hello there, Catholic schooling!) so I might as well do fun stuff. Why not get tattoos?
There is a long pause in the writing here where I take several swigs of my drink and chew my pen thoughtfully.
This isn’t really about tattoos and Catholic guilt, though. It never is. If it were that simple, I’d be covered by now.
It’s about permanence and impermanence, I guess. Sorry to get deep on you without warning, but you’ll learn to expect this from me. You see, I have this idea that I will be forever young. Like most people (I think), I still see myself as some sort of timeless adult-child hybrid. I’m still the same person I was pre-puberty, but with years and experience added — I leveled up. And now that I’ve earned the right to do, say, and be whatever I like, to wear my skin however I want, I’m faced with the cold reality that this canvas won’t last forever.
Mortality’s a bitch.
When I picture that forearm tattoo, I think of it on my grandmother’s arm — her skin like paper that’s been crumpled up and smoothed out again. The last years of her life, she stayed indoors all the time. After growing up on a farm and raising five kids in a noisy little house, she grew ghostly pale alone in her silent home. She never even pierced her ears. Her skin was unmarked and white as her hair. I imagine my circuit heart on her arm. I can’t let that image go. One day, it will be wrinkled, faded and blurred. And then one day it won’t matter.
Except that it will. Because it’s mine.