Anyone who knows me, knows that I love me a good tattoo. Whether it is on my body, or my husbands, or some random stranger, there is just something fascinating about tattoos. It’s like a look in to somebody’s soul. They aren’t going to waste time and money on something that they don’t care about (usually). When you see someone with an intricate design, or something large and detailed, you know that they spent a lot of time on that. And, it isn’t like tattoos are easy to sit through, they hurt, they hurt bad, so if someone is willing to undergo that pain there must be a reason.
I got my first tattoo when I was 18, a large depiction of the Hoya plant. Also called a Hindu Rope, this plant held special meaning to me. When my great grandmother passed away at the age of 99, it was the first time someone close to me, who had been a part of my life since I was born, had passed away. We weren’t particularly close, but my mom, my brother, and I would visit her sometimes in her tiny apartment on Main Street. She cursed like a sailor, she hated “hoodlums”, and she would still call my 70 year old grandfather in the winter to remind him to wear a hat. My mother would regale stories of how MaMa (pronounced mawl-mawl) had had a hard life. Lots of family secrets that aren’t meant to be shared online. Suffice it to say that MaMa had done a lot of things that women in that time period were not supposed to do, she was a hard, independent woman who always had a soft spot for true love. When cleaning out her apartment, my mother carted home a huge Hoya plant. It sat gloomily in her bedroom. Then, something strange happened. On Mama’s birthday, the plant started to bloom. It bloomed, and it bloomed. One beautiful burst of color after another. It bloomed for an entire year, which is incredibly rare for these plants, and then it up and died. There are still a few snippets of the plant floating through the family, but to my knowledge it has never bloomed again. A miracle perhaps? Mama telling us she’s doing ok? Probably perched on the back porch of her heavenly mansion, spying down to make sure that the angels aren’t participating in any hoodlum activities. Something about it just sparked a thought in me that I never wanted to forget this woman, I got the Hoya on my right shoulder and can now tell the story of my amazing great grandmother anytime asks me what it is.
Through the years, I have added to my collection of ink. I have a poem on my left leg:
All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great and small
All things wise and wonderful
The good Lord made them all
Another meaningful piece, my mother had this poem on a quilt that hung in our dining room my entire childhood, the words always reminding me to be a good person and try to think it through before I jump to judging people. Whether I think they are good or bad or what not doesn’t matter. God made them, I should treat everyone and everything with respect.
After meeting and falling in love with Wonderful Husband, I got the inscription “Carry me home tonight” on my foot. A chorus from a favorite song, and a tribute to the only man I ever knew who would never falter in taking care of me. Whether I am a drunken fool stumbling home, or a crazy pregnant lady screaming in labor pain, this man is always going to be by my side. We still whisper it to each other, in hard times, I will ask him to carry me home. I know I can always lean on him.
This weekend, I added another piece. I got the words “just breathe” tattooed onto my wrist. And no, I do not need a reminder to breathe as some have suggested. This is my reminder to stay calm. When I am feeling anxious, overwhelmed, panicky. When I feel like I made explode from emotions, or fall under the burden of my responsibilities, I can look down and be reminded to just breathe. There’s a story behind this one too.
When I was in college, I spent the majority of my time in one classroom. Each department had their own building, the Psych building was Morgan Hall. Somehow, I spent about 85% of my college career in room 208 of Morgan Hall. It seemed almost every class was in that room. The first time I ever entered that room, having a full fledged panic attack and finding it difficult to remain vertical, the room spinning as I gasped to maintain composure and not flee to hide in my dorm, I bee-lined for the back of the room near an open window. I squeezed into the tiny desk and busied myself getting out a notebook and pen. When I finally looked down at the desk I was shocked. There, carved clumsily into the pale desk top were the words “just breathe”. I glanced around the room, but no one was watching me, they were all making new friends and grouping into cliques. I ran my fingers over the words and inhaled a deep, and much needed, calming breath. I felt better. Somehow, just seeing those words, and knowing that somebody, at some point in time, had felt the urge to carve these words and then I would choose this desk and I would see these words exactly when I needed to see them was just insane. For the next 3 years, every class I had in room 208 of Morgan Hall was spent in this desk. It comforted me. I always regretted not taking a picture of the desk, and since graduating college I have jotted down the words several times to calm myself. Anyone who has ever had an anxiety attack knows how good it feels to have something to focus on when you are in the throes of it.
When Wonderful Husband, my friend, and I all decided we wanted to go get tattoos this summer, I knew it was time to add these words to my body. I had put it off for years, not knowing how I would get away with a wrist tattoo in the “real world”, but now I am not working, and I had decided to do it in white (that didn’t quite work out as you can see) so it wouldn’t be very noticeable. So, last Saturday we trekked down to Patty’s Art Spot and spent 5 hours with Patty’s husband Craig.
I am so pleased to have finally added to this to my collection of body art and know that it will serve me well in the future when I am having a panicky day or just need a reminder to take a deep breath and move on. A lot can be solved by taking a minute, breathing, and thinking it through.
Just for fun, here are the tattoos that my friend and Wonderful Husband got…
Theirs took extensively longer than mine did! And, of course, we are all already planning our next ones!
I would love to hear about your tattoos, why did you get them? How many do you have? Are you thinking of getting one?