#30 – tattoo

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“i would really very much like a new tattoo. which is free. which i still can’t afford. because fuck everything. and even if we had lots of spare time and nothing else happening i still wouldn’t know what i want other than the ability to disappear into the oblivion of just feeling instead of thinking.”

I wonder how many people use getting a new tattoo as some sort of amazing cathartic act fulfilling the need to sink into feeling and pull away from thinking. It’s like drugs but without the terrible come down after. And (for me) without the amazing numbness during. I know it’s a thing. I just wonder, if a study were done, just how many people use receiving a new tattoo that way vs. how many don’t. Just idle curiosity strictly from a numbers standpoint.

I don’t get that endorphin rush. That “runners’ high”. That something that so many of my exercise addicted friends talk about. That sinking into numbness and whiteness that so many people who can sit for a six or eight hour tattoo have told me about.

I do get a couple of hours worth of concentrating on how amazing the next piece of art will be. Of thinking about what I want to do when I have the time to do it. Of not worrying about where the kids need to be or what bill needs to be paid. Of being so in the moment that nothing else exists anywhere in all of space-time except that moment I’m creating right at that moment. Solipsism at its best.

I get that craving. That need for a new tattoo. That itch that nothing else can scratch. I can ignore it for a little bit, but then it comes back stronger than before. It’s what I turn to in times of stress. It’s what I turn to in times of happiness too. And sadness. And grief. And everything I suppose. It soothes something inside, likely because it’s something I have control over. Kind of like a drastic haircut, but more permanent. Not every tattoo works some inner demons out, or brings out some internalized emotion, but enough of them do to make any other form of therapy worthless.

I wonder if I would get the same thing out of it if I wasn’t married to my artist. I have the comfort level I need to just let go and examine myself and my brain and have a moment while he is busy making something pretty for me. If I didn’t have that comfort level, that trust, maybe I wouldn’t be able to kick back and fall into the experience. I can’t think of anyone I trust like I trust my husband. I can’t think of anyone who helps make me more perfectly me, whether it involves a tattoo or not. So I can’t imagine being able to find another artist to give me something I find so intrinsically… sacred?… without having that type of relationship with.

Not every tattoo is an experience, but every experience can be a tattoo. Mine tell the story of my life. I’m in the process of covering some of them up, but only because that part is over and I don’t need to keep it. I’ve lived it, I’ve cherished it, and now I can let it go. I’m in the process of agonizing over which piece is next. At the end of the year I swore my next piece would be a couples piece representing our marriage. I’m kind of onto the next thing, because he hasn’t had time to draw it, and every time I’ve attempted it, it turns out too busy, or too far away from what (I think) we had in mind. Right now, my next piece is to go with my Heinlein arm. My last piece was a permanent yizkor. Some things can never be cherished enough.

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