I guess you could say I’m “heavily tattooed”. I really don’t know what that term means nowadays, because tattoos seem to be the “norm”. Most of my left arm is inked, and I do have an unfortunate “tramp stamp” that is more stampie than trampy. I’ll leave you guessing on that one.
It’s been about 12 years since I got my first tattoo. The one in the photo was drawn by my partner in crime/life. He drew hearts on a menu that we shared on our first Valentine dinner, and I had it turned into a sleeve tattoo a few years later.
I love my tattoos. They are a road map of my life thus far, and each one is significant in the telling of my story. Maybe I won’t like them when I’m 80, and my skin is sagging. I’ll cross that wrinkled bridge when I come to it.
Here’s my trouble with tattoos: They’re a conversation piece.
If you turn your body into a walking gallery exhibit, you have to be prepared for strangers to comment.
I get this, but it doesn’t make awkward conversation with strangers any less awkward.
The typical awkward questions:
“Where’d you get your artwork done?”
“Did that hurt?”
“Is that henna?”
1). My boyfriend drew my tattoo, but my tattoo artist was deported back to Germany. Why? She cheated on her American husband, and he had her ass sent back home. Good for him/inconvenient for me. My sleeve is technically unfinished, but I kind of like it as is.
2). Having a needle poked into your skin is going to hurt. I think I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, so I’d describe the process as your skin being pinched, over and over again. Sometimes it feels worse than that. Sometimes it feels like grinding. The work on my arm took place over two, 3 hour sessions.
3). I have a wrist tattoo that resembles Indian Henna (this one hurt the most). I had this piece done when I was planning to move to India. I was 23, and had lined up work in an orphanage. At the time, I believed India was my destiny. I needed funding for my move, and it came through, a little too late. Normal life took over, and India seems further away than ever. I still keep a candle burning for at least a visit, and my tattoo helps to keep the flame ignited.
My most cherished tattoo is technically my worst one. It’s a hibiscus flower that I (crudely) drew myself. The hibiscus was my mother’s favorite flower, and she and her green thumb grew some magnificent ones. She passed away when I was 19, and I don’t need ink or trinkets to remember her lovely spirit, but somehow, this tattoo makes me feel connected to her.
I wear a Texas shaped charm around my neck because it makes me feel connected to what I consider to be my true home. It’s a guaranteed conversation starter, but when I’m feeling introverted, I can just guide the charm up the necklace chain and anchor it between the back of my shoulder blades. Awkward conversations thwarted.
Obviously, I can’t turn my skin inside out, and unless I’m willing to commit to prairie wear, I’m going to have to entertain some questions about my tattoos.
I don’t always enjoy the small talk, but sometimes the small talk turns into real conversation, and I dig real conversation. It’s all too easy for me to retreat inside my Kim shaped shell, so I’m sometimes grateful for ice breakers in the form of ink. Sometimes.
What’s next? A tattoo of the Texas flag inside the shape of the state. It might sound counterintuitive after what I said about the necklace, but I’ve made up my mind. Bring on the next round of awkward q&a!
How about you? Thinking about getting one? If you have one/some; what do they say about you?