It’s a sleepy, overcast Saturday morning and today I will be volunteering at our local mall to spread the word about the important impact having family meals can have on your children. My first words to my husband before my eyes even open, “Do you think if I get more tattoos on my ankle that I’m going to look really dumb when I’m 70”?
I recently decided that I was going to get a “sock” on my ankle. A “sock” which I was mistakenly calling a “sleeve”, which would have been correct, if I were referring to my arm, is basically a tattoo that occupies the location of your socks. Throughout the years I’ve gotten a few tattoos to mark important moments in my life, with the exception of the “Stork carrying a baby” AKA “Ink Blob” located on the left side of my tummy, all my body art is on my ankle. Oh, and by the way ladies, those of you considering getting a tattoo on your stomach and wanting to one day have children, it’s NOT a good idea.
I have my 22 year old Tie Dye Butterfly that represents my favorite Grateful Dead Song. I’ll never forget waking up to my mother and grandmother trying to wash it off of me in total disbelief and the comments that followed. “Darcy, only bikers and whores get tattoos!” and “ Now you will never be employable!”. I think they were truly scared for my future and that I had possibly ruined my life. Never mind the years of skipping school, drinking, and a variety of other potentially life-altering behaviors….. that tattoo was certainly going to be the end of my potential. Fortunately, I’ve never been one to buy into other people’s opinions or fears. A couple years later while struggling through college, before Jerry Garcia had even died, I remember looking at that tattoo and having a melt down over the fact that one day I was going to be old and wrinkled and so would my butterfly. This even happened before I had any idea the future fate of my stork!
I was traumatized enough to wait another decade before getting anymore art. It was the year after my grandmother, and step father had died, the tragic and unexpected loss of my best friends son, and the cancer that had stolen the life of a good friend , and I found myself in Thailand, processing all this loss. My favorite number was 9, and I had discovered 9 was the lucky number for Thai folks. It meant, “If you fall down, you get back up and you keep walking”. So, of course, one day after a cup of coffee and a thai massage, I was in a thai tattoo studio getting my number 9 and the word associated with it, imprinted neatly next to my butterfly.
Fast forward another decade, the day I told my daughters father I wanted a divorce……. How did I cope with the fear, the adrenaline, the anger, the sadness, the loss……………. Welcome the Otter to my ankle. The otter is a loving and playful mammal whom has ability basically to rip your eyeballs out with its claws. For those whom believe in spirit animals or totems, otters entice you to ask yourself if you are “having enough fun?”, they are fearless and ferocious and make excellent friends. After 11 years of feeling like a caged bird, I was ready to BE the otter!
The next year, my friend whom I had traveled Thailand with had just become certified to practice permanent make up. She brought her tools to South America on a trip in which we were both going to visit my mom. So, one night when my daughter and mom fell asleep, I convinced her to let me be her first tattoo. It’s likely I was her only tattoo. This was my final and probably my most meaningful tattoo. It was another number, 1312, with the 3 being a Hindi “OM” symbol. “Om” for me is the sacred symbol and sound of GOD, and 1312 was the address of my childhood home. It was the home that all my childhood memories reside. It was the home that I sat next to my grandfather for weeks until he transitioned to the next place and where I did the same for my grandmother. It was the home that was going to be my daughter’s one day. It was the family home that got caught up in my divorce and cost my mother, my daughter and me more pain than just the loss of a financial investment.
Yesterday, I sat in the planning meeting for today’s big event. I was asked by a committee member, “What are you going to wear today” and half jokingly replied, “I don’t know, but I’m going to attempt to hide my tattoos”. I realize now, my tattoos are the story of my pain and my joy and I’m not going to hide them today, or tomorrow. Fortunately, my mom and grandma were wrong about one thing, I am totally employable and on occasion, even employed. I think after volunteering today, I might even take the time to add to my story.
Photo by Étienne Beauregard-Riverin on Unsplash