I have wanted a tattoo since I was in high school but never really took the leap and actually got one because:
- Pain. However, the older I get, the more I realize that Westley was right (as he always is because there is a shortage of perfect breasts in this world and true love doesn’t happen every day) – “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”
- I’m flighty. Like the flightiest little bird that ever took to the skies. If I’m going to get something indelibly inked onto my flesh, it damn well better mean something instead of just being a flight of fancy.
Over the years, I’ve thought the following would be good tattoos: stars, the nataraja, a number of quotes from The West Wing (including Josh’s line about how President Bartlet’s a good man with a good heart and he doesn’t hold grudges. That’s what he pays Josh for), various words written in various languages that are not English and a Sailor Jerry style swallow.
These are all terrible ideas.
Among my less terrible ideas – the last lines of The Great Gatsby:
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning —
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
But that’s a whole lotta text for a girl that doesn’t have a whole lotta real estate on her body.
Also, Baz Luhrmann did his level best to ruin Gatsby for me with his stupid plastic zebras and fixation on ALL THE WRONG THINGS (the shitty millennial music video aspects of the story – Pretty people! Money! Champagne! – instead of focusing on how the hope that sustains a man is the same hope that will destroy him. J.R. Jones was so right when he called it, “a ghastly Roaring 20s blowout at a sorority house.”), so my veneration has waned a little.
Among my decent ideas are Bruce and Bukowski.
There’s a lyric from Badlands that I’ve been chasing around my head for years – “It ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive.”
Happiness should be the default setting for humanity but as I grow older, I realize that this is not the case. Happiness is often hard won and the pursuit of it is something that people feel they have to apologize for.
Yeah. That’s bullshit.
Your happiness matters. You should strive towards it and to hell with anyone who begrudges, condemns or demands atonement from you for being glad you’re alive.
It’s tough, though and every now and then – you need reminding of this very simple fact. Every day, you wake up to absolution.
I’m sure there’s at least one cautionary tale about dating someone with a Bukowski line tattooed on their body.
Hell, if I was dating a guy and I found out he had a Bukowski tattoo, I would consider it:
A) a massive car dealership sized red flag. Like dude. No. This is going to end badly. Danger Will Robinson. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
B) ridiculously hot.
What? I am large; I contain multitudes.
For all his piss and vinegar and bile, Bukowski had this sense of hope. He kept it caged like the bluebird in his heart and the booze and the cigarettes and the whores and the broken hearts couldn’t keep it from singing out:
What matters most is how you walk through the fire.
Life is as kind as you let it be.
It has been a beautiful fight. Still is.
We have all this beauty in the world and all we have to do is reach out and touch it.
No one can save you but yourself and you’re worth saving
And of course – Hey baby, when I write – I’m the hero of my shit.
I probably wouldn’t get those last lines inked on me (despite the fact that I am certainly the heroine of my shit) but the rest of his work? Definitely worth deliberation.
I don’t want a tattoo because it’s cool or because a majority of my friends have one (those days have long passed me by). I want one because it would be a conscious decision I made regarding the state of who I am.
I’ve got scars I never requested. Tiny marks from wounds that never healed properly I never sought out. Freckles that have bloomed all over my neck and decolletage, giving me the appearance of an Everything Bagel. Even my pierced ears were a decision made for me as a child, but a tattoo?
That’s an alteration I have full control over. A permanent addition to a body that has served me well for the past 30+ years. A body that has survived hell and heartbreak and sickness and scrapes. A body that I don’t always love (as evidenced by my penchant to yelp out, “Oh, what in the unholy fuck is that all about?” while looking in the mirror) but manages to surprise me more often than not (yoga has made me realize how alternately strong and weak I am).
A body that is completely mine.
And what better way to honor it than by adorning it with something I love?