To my chagrin I had no idea yesterday was National Tattoo Day. I be celebrating up in herre today. And yes. Just possibly. Definitely maybe. With a tiny new piece of ink.
When people ask about my tattoos (why did you get them? do they mean anything? will you regret them?) I respond:
For me a tattoo is ‘right’ if it feels as though it has always been there & just ROSE TO THE SURFACE when the needle hit my skin.
I’m not sure this helps much if you’re a person who doesn’t care for ink, but in my mind it makes total sense.
All of my art–from Suess to skulls–feels as though it had been carried inside of me and finally ‘let out’ when the tattoo was completed.
I *always* share with kids who ask me about my tattoos the fact I did not get a tattoo until I was old (wink).
I was 28 when I got the Star of David around my navel:
The star, for me, was a natural fit.
Being Jewish–even though I’m not ‘religious’–is an important part of who I am. It’s my core. The centering point of my life.
I was older still when I got my next one (32?).
The Husband knows me well.
The Husband knew I did not want a diamond engagement ring.
The Husband purchased us matching engagement/wedding bands from the Signals catalog.
My next stop at the tattoo shop was for the tiny image below.
We were newly home from Guatemala and I was feeling, as so many new parents do, wonky and vulnerable.
I now had a little person I loved more than life itself to protect and look after.
I was experiencing the ‘having a child is like walking around with my heart outside my body’ phenomena.
I decided I needed a little protection from the evil eye.
I got me a hamsa hand for happiness, luck and protection.
I frequently forget this tattoo is there (some of the point of it for me) yet clearly recall the morning the Tornado discovered it on my neck.
Oh Mama!! I found a new tattoo!
It took bit of explaining to her three-year-old self NO, tattoos don’t just pop up out of the blue and YES I was aware this one existed…
More than any question I receive about my tattoos (more even than the “Why Dr. Seuss?”) is “What’s the deal with the skulls?”
For me, with this tattoo, the sugar skull symbolizes rebirth.
I had this tattoo done fairly soon after I moved home from Guatemala as well.
And then there’s the Seuss sleeve. Lottsa queries there.
- Yes. I do love me some Theodore Geisel.
- Yes I’m aware how political his writings are—-although that’s not why I inked the sleeve.
- Yes Ive seen (and adore) gallery showings of his secret art.
I started this sleeve right before I turned forty. Id always loved Dr. Seuss and yet it was a more childish love.
It wasn’t anchored into much of anything—I simply liked his rhymes, characters and colors.
And then we moved home from Guatemala.
All of the stories took on new more personal meanings (how lucky I felt, helping me explain the concept of adoption to the Tornado etc) & the notion of a leg sleeve (tattooed kneecap and all) was born.
Which brings me to a few weeks ago.
Another tattoo which was years in the making and yet feels, as it should, as if it has always been there.
This in-process piece of art:
Times have been rough around here.
Stressful, frazzled, and—to my chagrin—we’ve more turned ON each other in times of stress than TO.
But, after close to NINETEEN years together, we’ve also learned how to push past and work though. That said, this has been the most challenging time we’ve faced.
All that said (translation: back to POOPING BUTTERFLIES as my friend Dr.Seuss would say) I think we’ve made it.
All that said, this made for perhaps my most significant tattoo yet.
A re-commitment of sorts to our family and to sticking together through the proverbial thick & thin.
And, of course, in skull-form.
For me tattoos are as I imagine having a gaggle of children would be:
You don’t have a favorite one & you love them all for differing reasons.
The family portrait, however, with its tremendous significance right now, is my current fave.
And I’m grateful to my artist, Annie Mess, as well for her ability to grasp what this tattoo means & help the art rise to my skin surface.
(looks up from this LONG navel-gazing post to see if anyone is still reading)
The night after I started my portrait tattoo at Golden Age the Tornado —whom Im 99,9% certain has NEVER heard me share the explanation I did at the start of this post—prayed:
Thank you G-d for my mom’s tattoo showed up today.
That for me is 100% it.
Whether you love or loathe the art of tattoos aside—-for me they all feel as though they’ve always been there and have simply, finally risen to the surface.
- Are you an illustrated woman or man with stories to tell? Id love love love to hear them…