I believe in tattoos. Whenever I see a tattoo peering out from underneath a piece of professional clothing, I cannot help but smile. They show me that the wearer has no fear of permanence. In a world of plastic forks and virtual chat rooms, it’s nice to see people interested in something that will not be so easily disposed.
Sometimes I hear tattooing guns buzzing as I walk down city streets, and the sound makes my blood jump. All at once I remember exactly how it feels when a needle chews my skin, filling my flesh tone in with new color. I have to fight the urge to turn around, walk into the shop, and plan my next tattoo.
I believe in tattoos serving as a memorial to something beloved, and I believe that is okay if that thing isn’t specific. My tattoos symbolize nothing except for who I was when I got them, and the part of me that thought the art was beautiful enough to wear closer than a lover. I have sat in a tattooists’ chair on four different occasions, and each time I imagine that I am giving birth. Rather than bringing around a new life, I am giving light to an indescribable pulse from within myself.
When I look at my latest tattoos, a trio of honeybees on the sides of my knees, I think fondly of the evening in downtown Philadelphia when they were born. It was October, and the air smelled of the streets’ fresh rain puddles and fallen leafs that skated across the pavement with the push of the wind. There was a goth show around the corner. Teenagers dressed head-to-toe in black leaned against buildings wherever I walked, their hair adorned with lace spider webs and their faces painted geisha white. The autumn air stung my tattoos beneath their bandages. My skirt was short, my hair was dyed, and I was enthralled with the ever-fading miracle of my youth.
I will change as I age, and my tattoos will change with me. My mother tells me that I’ll regret them when I start to gray, wrinkle and sag. I don’t think so. I didn’t get them to be vain. I look forward to see how my tattoos will change, and how people will read them as the years go on. I believe that my tattoos will be a monument to a who I was in the past and a testament to who I will always be, that person whose inner light always shines, and always changes with the flex of time, like dawn and dusk.
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