Day 7: What tattoos you have and if they have meaning.
Ken has only said, “You don’t have to do this.” to me twice.
The first time when I was about to get on the Green Tortoise Bus heading for San Francisco, after a Grateful Dead concert. Then again, just before we walked into the basement apartment of this guy who was going to mark me.
I have one tattoo. I am open to more. I don’t want an entire sleeve or anything. I would like to change the one I have and I would like another one. I haven’t done either yet, because I’m lazy.
Before I got my tattoo I drew it on the back of my wrist, with a black marker. I wanted to see if I could live with a permanent mark or if I would get bored with it. I drew the mark everyday for about six months. I liked it.
When I finally decided to make it permanent, I change the location to my shoulder. I thought at the time, that I would one day be a famous tai chi teacher and if I were to present my hand to anyone for push hands, they might think less of me because of the tattoo.
I decided not to mark my wrist for this reason alone.
This of course was way back in the day when tattoos were not as common as they are now. My mom, full of wisdom, always said, only gypsies, sailors, and really bad people had tattoos. I wasn’t sure which category I fell into.
I was 30 years old and sober when I walked into that basement apartment to be marked forever. My friend Tam, said he knew a guy who was learning to tattoo. He said he would do it to for free as it would be practice. I was good with that. I was getting was a small, dime size spiral, and how could he fuck it up?
The basement room was dark, had black lights and posters on the walls, and I’m pretty sure the guy smoked a bit of pot. Still, I felt okay with it. Ken held my hand.
The job itself, took less than a two minutes. It hurt like hell, and I was very happy with my mark. No regrets at all. The guy did a fine job!
I loved my little tattoo. I can see it or hide it at my will. It’s better on my shoulder than on my wrist. Today, I don’t think I would mind the wrist location, but all in all. I am glad of my choice and decision.
A spiral is a circle going somewhere. That was the story I told when asked why I chose that mark.
Years later, I wanted to get an enso. I thought a cool circle brush stroke around my spiral would be just the ticket. I was in Minnesota at the time with a friend, who is a tattoo artist, as well as marital arts sister. I asked her to mark me. She agreed.
I told her what I wanted, we looked at designs. She wanted to do more, bigger, and with colour. I said no. The pain of the tattoo was on my mind and I really wanted it simple.
Again, I wasn’t in her chair all that long and was surprised when she said she was finished. I felt nothing. No pain at all. I marveled at her skill. She said, it doesn’t hurt if it is meant to be.
The thing is, I didn’t get the enso I was hoping for. I was given a simple, single lined circle around my spiral. She made an accidental tiny heart shaped mark at the end of the spiral. Not at all what I had in mind.
I didn’t say anything, but to this day when I look at my shoulder, I don’t have the mark I want. It’s okay and certainly not horrid enough to change.
One day, I’d like to get a proper enso. I’ve seen several I really like. I especially the coffee stained logo one I used for Jan Parker Arts for years. I know it will hurt, even if it is mean to be. I’d like a pretty thick enso. One day, I will get it… or not.
I’d also like to have another tattoo. But I am really too lazy or too cheap to make happen.
I’d like a rhinoceros looking at the moon. I don’t know where I’d put it. Not my back as I’d like to see it, maybe the inside of my forearm.
In the words of Bart Simpson, “Tattoos are cool and they are forever.”
Tomorrow story: A book you loved and one you didn’t.