This week’s Red Writing Hood prompt from Write on Edge was to write a piece in which a tattoo figures prominently. Fiction or creative non-fiction. There is a lot to think about: why someone would get one, what they chose, when they got it, what message does the tattoo(s) send? This week I’ve written about my character Michaela. You can read more of her story by clicking on the page above that says The Story of Michaela.
Provincetown is a different world after the tourists are gone. The bitter October wind tore at the grainy faxed image in my hand. Maybe it was crazy to come so far to get a tattoo. Moon Dance had come highly recommended and I clicked with Morgan, the tattoo artist, when we talked on the phone.
I had a vague image in my head of a tree with a Celtic theme and I wanted to incorporate the names of the kids into the design. Morgan faxed me a couple of sketches that were close to what I wanted. Then yesterday she sent me a drawing of a tree growing out a rock. All of our initials were subtly woven into the leaves and branches. I told her I’d be there in the morning.
Peter and I talked about marking our tenth anniversary with tattoos. I spent our ninth anniversary hiding under the covers of my bed letting someone else take care of my children. It’s been almost two years since he died and I need to stop mourning. I want to remember the look of adoration on his face when I walked down the aisle and the way his hands trembled when I told him I was pregnant. Not every woman gets to have that and I’m learning to be grateful that I did.
I took a deep breath and pushed open the door of the studio. Morgan was a tiny woman with a young face, graying hair, and perfect posture. We shook hands and she offered me tea.
“The design is perfect,” I told her. “It’s exactly what I wanted to express.”
“That’s great. Are you ready to get started?”
“No. Not exactly.”
“Having second thoughts? That’s okay. I don’t want to do the work if you aren’t sure.”
“When Peter died, I learned a lot about permanency. Everyone says tattooing is permanent. But it isn’t really. This design is a family crest that I’d like to pass on to my kids. I can’t do that if it’s a tattoo. I want this artwork carved into granite or wood. Something more permanent that I am.”
I am one of the last remaining inkless women under 50 in North America. Since I have never gone under the needle, I asked on my personal Facebook page for people to share their experiences. It lead to a very spirited conversation to say the least. It was apparent that people hold very strong and personal reasons for tattooing and as well as not tattooing. The discussion made me realize that I was most qualified to write a story about not getting a tattoo.
This Sugarland song has been running through my head since I first read the prompt. It has the lyrics, "He's yellin' about my tattoos. We all live with the scars we choose. They might hurt like hell, but they all make us stronger." I don't want a tattoo, but I would like to be Jennifer Nettles when I grow up.