My first one was just the desire for a reminder that I was once the type of person that would get one.I was the first of all my friends to get one, my sister was the only other person I knew who had one. Nowadays, one in four people gets one.
This is the story of my latest and last tattoo. It should be the story, actually, of the first time Iris and myself went to get a tattoo, but that is mostly her story to tell, and besides, her part of this story is way, way more interesting and beautiful, and I am an attention whore, so.
I rationalized meaning into the shape of that first tattoo after I got it, because when people asked me why I had one or what it meant the real answer (I just got it to remind myself of who I want to remain, and it looks cool, I think) didn’t seem pleasing enough, not deep enough, not visual enough to pass the judgment of the asker. If I had a good story behind it, people were easier to approve of it.
My second tattoo had to be bigger than the first, of course, if only because the ex-boyfriend of my then-girlfriend just had a huge one done that I envied for balls and style. I had known the spot where it was going to be for years: upper left side on my ribcage, near my heart, because the first one was on an arm, which would metaphoriphysicalesoterically bring balance to the Force (muscles, arm) and my feelings (heart). Yeah, I know, I should have kept that thought where it has always been, inside.s The thought upon which the tatttoo was based was not half bad, though, witness the brief exchange I had in the tattoo shop:
(to girl behind counter) “Hi, I would like to get a tattoo, please?”
(girl, bored) “Where?”
(me) “On my ribs, here”
(she, wide eyed, audible gasp) “omgwtfREALLY?? In that case I am going to watch. So painful!”
(tattoo artist) “So how can I forever mutilate a part of the corpus that God gave you?”
(me) “So, just, um something to help me live in the present, I’m always thinking about the past or the future. I want to enjoy the now more.”
The tattoo dude probably had as little notion as I did, that I was in fact describing zen (I wouldn’t start practicing that before another three years). Good thing, or I’d have had an enso tattoo, yuck.
My second tattoo was bigger, had a more sellable story, took longer, was more painful. Third up was a whole arm, ten years later. Mu!! A story told elsewhere, in several parts, my megalomania knows no boundaries.
So the last tattoo, with the same artist as Iris. I figured, we just tell her our ideas and see what she comes up with, and put that on our body. I had mailed ahead my idea, being, the letter I in four ways. Inspiration is the most important ingredient for life. The Roman “I” means one, everything is one, like the buddhists say (and the Dalai Lama thinks that it is no joke either). I am always looking for myself, for I. And, duh, Iris is the biggest name in my life. So, four big letters I. Big ideas. Let’s see what she comes up with. Her first dea for Iris was huge, whole arm and part of her chest, so I figured my upward trend of size would go on. And then it beautifully did not. Look what I (heh) got:
Clear, isn’t it? Let me zoom in a bit for you.
It took all of 47 seconds to put on, and I didn’t have time to feel anything. And here is the beauty. That letter i is actually Iris’s. The I of Iris. She drew it and then the artist inked it on me. We left the tattoo shop in a daze, Iris from having a vibrating needle stuck in her ribcage for waytoo long and me from witnessing her immorrtalizing something beautiful (sorry folks, still her story to tell). I did sulk for a bit about the idea of four not really showing up in the tattoo, until I realized that it was my fourth tattoo. Yes, I know. And in the ultimate feat of cognitive dissonance I splattered the idea of the four I’s across every tattoo that I had, because, that oneness, well, mu!!, a bit hard to explain here, but believe me, the connection is there, my third tattoo is the oneness I. Inspiration, it can come from anywhere, and it is realky the most important thing, and you can only find it here and now, making my second tattoo the I for inspiration (yeah, this one is a bit of a stretch). And for my first tattoo, is that not about the i-dentity I was trying to remind myself of? Circling back, to the last tattoo, the I of Iris, and can you actually see that the way she writes the i is pretty similar to a 1? Cognitive dissonance or not, she is my nr.1, or I want her to be, either way, she has to share that spot with Zoe now, and anyway, who else should I look to for inspiration but my wife? Fuck you, ALS, for coming between us, and make this tattoo the hardest one to live. Fuck you. I love you, Iris, and I wish our circumstances where different. Happy 30th birthday. May you enjoy at least fifty more.