Thursday, July 24, 2008


He gruffly asked the reason why, sitting behind the desk looking over the designs I gave him to consider.
"It has meaning to me," I said boldly in spite of his half-sneer and the devil tattooed over his neck.
I guess that seeing girls like me walk into the shop provokes an instantaneous eye-rolling wonder. Another chick who's gonna want butterflies, birds or flowers, I can almost hear him think...what about spiderwebs, flying crosses and skulls? I proved a disappointment, but a paycheck nonetheless and so he asked me to give him a moment to set up and sketch it out. It was on the tip of my tongue to tell him the details of what the tattoo meaning was, but he vanished down a hallway before I got the chance.
My sister whispered, "Do you think he'll let me come in with you?" like she was in fourth grade and terrified of being rapped on the knuckles by the teacher for talking in class.
"I'm sure," I said.
"He seems, um...intense."
"He does," I agreed, listening to the angry buzzing sound of a tattoo already in progress nearby.
"Doesn't that sound freak you out?"
"No...not really," I told her, but then the noise ramped up and I thought twice about it.

He came out and led us to room with a curtain, then he set up his artist's palette of black and white, indigo and palest robin's egg blue, a deep jewel green...
"You ready?" he asked.
"I am."
He set the stencil on my upper right shoulder and damn near smiled when I complimented its positioning in the mirror. He rested his gloved hand on the hollow of my spine and let it linger just a moment.
"We're going to start. If you need me to take any breaks, just let me know."
I nodded and he dipped the tattoo gun in the ink, "How long since your last tattoo?" he asked me somberly, and I flashed on twelve years of Catholic school and the priest obscured by a lacy wooden screen and that disembodied, "How long since your last confession?" and I almost laughed aloud.
"'s been thirteen years?" I said, "I almost forget what it feels like."
Again his hand rested on my skin, "You'll remember pretty quick."

He was right.

My sister got him talking about movies and comic book heroes and I counted beads on the japa mala hanging from my right wrist. My back felt that jagged burning a tattoo creates...a half-pain, half-irritation that made me sweat and tremble slightly. I found myself wanting to confess to this tattoo guy...wanting to tell him why I picked this design and why I needed the visual touchstone to remind me not to give up on pursuing my wishes and dreams...I wanted to confess to him right there how hard the last year of my life was, how much pain and uncertainty has plagued me and why I was *compelled* on my birthday to open the next year up on my own terms.

Instead, I held my silence. But, my confession would have been something like this: the dandelion clock (gone to seed) reminds me of childhood, innocence and a youthful perspective...they make me think of impermanence and non-attachment, the fleeting nature of time and circumstances...blowing on a dandelion is the act of putting wishes "out there". This next year of life is *all* about doing just that for me. I did ask him to put three seeds off of the dandelion, undulating through the "air" of my skin. Three for three wishes and for my three children, who represent to me the best of my hopes for the future...

A week later, my skin is still scabbed over and healing. But I couldn't be happier with the gift I gave myself to celebrate this new year & everything after...

microscopic photo c/o Jason Ruck
click to watch DANDELION


Blogger Jessie said...

This is some beautiful writing, my dear--as is your commitment to yourself. Why haven't I been reading your blog all along? Well, I'm glad that you'll be joining in and being brave. I look forward to getting to know you better.

btw, your tattoo sounds incredible. here's to living your dreams.

1:41 PM  
Blogger Odessa said...

hi d,
i know i keep saying this but your writing is just beautiful! and what wonderful gift for yourself on your birthday! i'm also touched that your sister was there with you, aren't sisters one of the best things in life? thanks for reminding me to be brave.

2:02 PM  
Blogger Admin said...

i want to get some kind of stylized tree tattoo with deep roots. it signifies this past year for me, and how i've learned how to put my own roots down. i had been in flight, recklessly, for far too long. have you seen The Fountain? a tree kind of like that...

7:17 PM  
Blogger Marianne said...

It is a beautiful gift to yourself. About 10 years ago I marked the end of one life and the beginning of another with a tattoo and recently I've been feeling that the time has come for another.

Beautiful writing - as always.

7:28 PM  
Blogger daisies said...

oh honey, this is wonderful, what a perfect well-deserved gift to yourself ... i have been itching for another of my own, to mark a different transition, the same but different as transitions are ... have been thinking on my birthday as well, forty seems somehow appropriate timing ...


10:20 PM  
Blogger kristen said...

wow. and please, may i see the new ink?

12:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" own terms".

This. This was an arrow straight to my heart. Your bravery is as always, inspiring.

7:16 PM  
Blogger Cynthia said...

wonderfully cool birthday gift to yourself! the meaning is rpofound,
love the idea of blowing on the dandelion to put the wishes out there - happy birthday from another moonchild.

7:24 AM  
Blogger Melanie Margaret said...

I just love the way you tell a story. reading this post has made me so excited for your book.

What an incredible act of bravery~

I just know this is your year!

Happy Birthday!

9:37 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

I can't wait to see it.

...I have a birthday coming up. One that has a sort of meaning about it. Maybe I should give myself such a gift.


3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Thank you! Honestly, I love the internet for having writers like yourself that sit down and take time to educate, and mentor us into preparing us through the right way to succeed in life. Whether you think that this helps or not, I just want you to know that it most definitely makes a huge impact and a difference for someone like myself. I'm taking my time to write this because I don't want you to go feeling un-noticed! You have most definitely been recognized and you should know that this has surely helped me along my way! Thank you once again, really..
Have a great day!

2:01 AM  
Anonymous Xerox Toner Cartridges said...

I respect your work very much. Keep up the good work, so far I've clearly understood and followed up with your writings. until the next time I run across your page.G'luck

6:46 AM  
Anonymous coupon said...

Saving this to my reading list (you gotta love the new Safari feature on iOS 5!). Great post.... P.S. Happy Friday, everyone :)

12:21 PM  

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