Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Black and Blood

About a year and a half ago I wrote a post about the tattoo that I was thinking about getting. For at least 20 years I have considered getting a tattoo. For at least 15 of those 20 years, I was a little indecisive about what I really wanted, which is why I never got one...until last weekend.

For the second year in a row, I went to a conference in Santa Barbara. This year's conference was even better than last year and I definitely learned a great deal. What was different was that although I casually knew a few people that were attending, no one I work with on a regular basis was there, so outside a couple of dinners and the conference days, I had some time to myself.

I arrived on Wednesday early in the afternoon. Hungry and looking for lunch, I headed out onto the main street in town, State Street. I grabbed a quick bite and continued on my walk, just intending on doing a little shopping and enjoying the day. One of the very first places that caught my eye was Golden Eagle Tattoo. I liked some of the work they had on the walls and found myself looking through some of the artists' books. I liked one of the artists in particular and walked away with lots going on in my mind.

The next couple of days were a blur of conference and dinners with colleagues with little time left for myself. When it was all over on Friday night after dinner, I went back to my hotel and finally had some time alone. I woke up on Saturday still thinking about getting a tattoo and decided to go for a walk, get some lunch and head over to the shop. Somewhere between Wednesday and Saturday the thought had become a plan.

I walked in and talked to Jason, the artist that I was interested in. He was very kind and had me look more carefully at his work to be sure I wanted to use him. We looked at my post about what I had in mind and then he came up with a sketch that I thought was perfect. This is about when it all took on a very surreal feeling for me. I heard entire discussions going on in my head about what I was doing and all the implications. In the end, I felt very calm and relaxed and finally took my seat at Jason's station.

For the next two hours I sat there hugging the back of the chair. There was never a moment where I felt like I was in pain. It felt warm and slightly irritating, but that was about it. It was the nothingness of sitting there for two hours that put me into a very meditative state. On the wall in front of me were sketches of tattoos that Jason was working on. One of them was of two small birds sitting on some dogwood branches. It was very beautiful and the birds made me think of my daughter. The eye of one of the birds was particularly captivating and I found myself staring into it for long lengths of time.

At no time during the process did we take a break other than Jason asking me quickly if I was feeling OK. I felt fine and he kept working diligently. By the time we were done, the trashcan on floor next to me was full of used gloves and toweling that was covered in black ink and my blood. The blood just seemed like a reminder of the fact that this was now a part of my body. Something that I would have for the rest of my life. I'd already made my peace with it. As I stood to look at my new addition in the mirror, I felt completely pleased and fell in love with the work.

When he was done, Jason cleaned the tattoo and wrapped it, giving me instructions on how to care for it as it healed. I knew that there was a healing process, and was glad that he was careful in repeating instructions to me. I settled up and headed back to my hotel room feeling like I had the greatest secret on earth. When I got there, I realized that even though the process was not as painful as I had expected, my body had been through a lot and it was tired.

Four days later, my tattoo already feels like a part of me. I'm over the surprise of seeing it there in the mirror. It feels like it was always meant to be there.


Bubs said...

Beautiful! Congratulations on your new ink!

lulu said...

I love it. Welcome to the club.

Cap'n Ergo "Carthage" Jinglebollocks said...

"short is the pain, long is the ornament." I saw that on a tee-shirt somewhere in a tat shop.

That really is spectacular. I'll be curious to hear if this becomes an addiction to you or not-- I've got 9 and I'd have a HELL of a lot MORE if I had the cash for it. I love every damned lil' line I've got, and now I want more!! MORE MORE MORE!!

Echo said...

AWESOME! T, you committed to the tat!

Can you send some of that decisiveness this way?

Grant Miller said...

You are a bad ass.

I could never get a tattoo.

Tenacious S said...

Thanks, everybody! And, yes, I'm already thinking about the next one.

Dale said...

Excellent! I need a new one, come with me?

Tenacious S said...

Dale, your neck of the woods or mine?

Dale said...

Hmm, maybe I should come to your neck (of the woods) one of these days.

Beth said...

You are just WAY TOO COOL, girl.

Johnny Yen said...

That's great that you finally did it!

I gave mine years of thought as well. When I was finally ready to get it, I had a basic idea of what I wanted. My friend Lisa, it turned out, was dating a tattoo artist with left leanings. He took my basic idea and turned it into a "social realist" looking design. I've had it for 16 years now and am stilll pleased with it.