Sunday, April 10, 2011

Not everyone will understand this...

This is a repost of a note I wrote on Facebook last August. Since it's one of my favorites and some of my friends hadn't read it, I'm putting it on here so it's easier to access.

...and to those who don't, that's OK. I'm sharing anyway, because I think it's just pretty amazing.

Back in the day when I was living in Oklahoma, tattoos were pretty much illegal. Ok, ok, let me clarify: Tattoos = not illegal. Tattoo parlors where you get tattoos = illegal. You could have one, you just had to go to across state lines to get it done. Now, I'm not really spontaneous when it comes to actions that have permanent repercussions. Seriously, it took me years to decide to get a perm (still have only had two) and color my hair... those are reversible and relatively temporary. I did get divorced, but it was with much literal gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair... I went down with a fight, in as many words. All that to say, the concept of having a tattoo wasn't something that was at the forefront of my mind for quite some time.

One day, however, Jameson's friend Laith's mom showed me her tattoo she had gotten the weekend before when she was on a trip to Texas. It was a little turtle, altho I can't remember where it was in the ten years since I saw it last. It wasn't a cartoony kind of turtle, but one that paid homage to her South American roots. I didn't covet that tattoo, but I understood it. For the first time, I gave some real consideration to having a tattoo myself. My thoughts, however, were not terribly serious given the complexity of getting a tattoo. At the time, I was a single mom to four boys ages newborn to six... that doesn't afford one much of an opportunity to cross state lines and get inked. ( I know, I know - I was surprised by that too!)

Time passed, a marriage was patched back up, a pregnancy was discovered (hellooooo Maddie!) and a move was made to a new state, Ohio. Here in the land of lawful tattoo parlors, the act of getting a tattoo became less of a hypothetical situation and more of a realistic possibility. I didn't make plans for it, but it was always in the back of my mind. My answer to the "Do you have any tattoos?" question turned from "No, I don't" to "No, I don't, but I can definitely see myself getting one."

More time passed, a baby was born, a marriage was ending, and I found myself a single parent to five children ages 1 year to 8 years of age and with even less time and fewer resources to indulge in something like a tattoo. In that same time, however, I entered a time of self discovery and examination, and I realized I definitely wanted one. For me. I spent some time looking at designs and coming up with something that I thought I could live with the rest of my life, and found a cute Celtic knot. I wanted it to be about the size of a quarter and took it into a tattoo artist for an opinion. In his opinion, I wouldn't get what I was looking for with that size and design, since the lines would bleed together. I had a mental shrug of the shoulders and moved on to other aspects of well, moving on. The urge to get tattooed didn't really go away, however.

I found "myself" as they say, as time passed and milestones were achieved and I became more independent as a woman and mother, and realized I really, really wanted one. It was, to me, a symbol of I have been a wife and mother and given all that requires for so very long, and I wanted to do this one thing for just me. The conversations about the haves and the have nots with tattoos found me squarely on the side of wishing I had one. I still searched for something I would love, something I would never regret and something I would never tire of seeing on a daily basis. I had yet to find the *just right* design, but I saw that as just another sign that it wasn't the right time.

Then came Groupon. This spring they featured a Groupon for Evolved, a well known and very established tattoo parlor here in Columbus. I bought my Groupon and got excited knowing that I was that much closer to fulfilling a desire I'd had for the last ten years. I went in with a friend who'd bought the same deal, and we consulted with one of the artists. She didn't have time for us that day, but I made an appointment for six weeks later, when she was going to be back in town. I walked out that day ink-free and a little bummed, but glad to have some more time to find exactly what I was looking for in a design.

Remember late starts or those days when you don't have to be at work until later than your normal starting time? You know how you fool yourself into thinking you have SO much extra time that you don't have to pay attention until you realize you have piddled away ALLL your extra time and you are now running extreeeeeemly late and you are flying around like a chicken with your head cut off? Yeah, that would be me the day before my appointment, desperately googling images to find the just right design for my tattoo. I walked in to my appointment with nary a picture nor design to hand to my artist to embed into my skin. Forever. Nadda. Nothing. Could not have been less prepared if I had tried. Seriously.

I scanned the notebooks of artwork examples trying to find something that I thought would work, and found next to nothing I liked for *me*. I met with Anna, my tattoo artist, and described what I was kind of picturing, even though, admittedly, I was terribly vague. I showed her a vine I liked, and a flower that was sort of what I was wanting and she said "OK, I'll be right back." She came out with a sketch that I LOVED. It was exactly what I wanted, even though I hadn't been able to verbalize it. I gave her my approval, she finished off some minor detailing, I got inked, and voila... Missy has a tattoo.

The day I got my tattoo was Cinco de Mayo, which some of you will understand the significance of for me... I've been so incredibly happy with it. It's my tattoo, for me, in a place where few will ever see it, but is accessible to whoever wants to. I love it. I haven't regretted it for one second, and am completely, utterly thrilled with it. That being said, not everyone has the same opinion of tattoos, and I understand that. For that very reason, the picture I posted of my tattoo wasn't visible to everyone, and I didn't have any status updates or anything about getting it. Not everyone "gets" getting tattoos, and I am fine with that. Why a blog about it, then? Ahhhh, good question little grasshopper.

This past week I met some of my boyfriend's family, including his sister. She has a visible tattoo, which started a conversation for us about them and resulted in me showing her mine. "What flower is that?" she asked, and I had to say I wasn't sure... I thought it was a hibiscus. It met with her approval then, and a couple days later she said she was thinking about getting a new tattoo and asked if I would be ok with her getting the same one I have. I told her I would be thrilled by that, and sent her a picture of it. I got this message from her today:

" Did you know your tattoo is a lotus flower?
I just looked it up and the meaning...they stand for people who have come through alot of yuck and are blooming...the lotus starts at the bottom of a pond in the mud and grows toward the sun and then blooms ..."

OK, like... wow. How appropriate is that for me? How amazing is it that the flower I have permanently decorating my person is the very embodiment and meaning of what I wanted it to represent? It could not have been more perfect if I had tried, and I am amazed. I have been in such a holding pattern for the last seven years with my ex, and have been relying on and waiting on God to get me through the garbage that I've been through and to the light at the end of the tunnel. I see this as one small (yet permanent, have I mentioned that?) example of God being in control of every little thing, even something like this. I hope none of you are offended that I would see God being in control of a tattoo... because my God is in control of everything from things you and I agree on AND things we don't. He knew what this would mean to me, and I believe He used it in the way He knew would speak to me best. My tattoo meant one thing to me initially, and now it means even more. Because of that, I share it with you.

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