Mar. 30th, 2007

Ink

Mar. 30th, 2007 12:38 pm
onedayleft: (make mistakes)
(This is an excerpt from a paper I wrote for my argument class. It's a letter, written to my mother, addressing the issues of my tattoos.)

Overall, what I really want to let you know is that none of this is trivial to me. My mind goes into details like health, money, and implications on my career and future. And my heart goes into the tattoos themselves. Far from making me a worse person, I feel like my body art has actually brought improvement to my life. This may be as hard a concept to grasp as it is to explain, but I’d like to try. Each of my current tattoos as well as those I’d like in the future have specific and very important meanings to me. My first, the ‘No Division’ tattoo, is an expression of my personal belief system and what’s important to me. I’d like two English lions to celebrate my heritage. I have a whole piece designed using flowers to represent each member of the family. Nothing is simply skin deep when it comes to my body art.

The piece that is the best example of this was done when I visited California this past summer, after you knew about my tattoos, and after you’d told me you didn’t want me getting any new ones. It was a simple addition, a banner with the words “never stop” wrapping around an existing symbol. Getting this tattoo was one of the toughest, and best, decisions I’ve made in my life. The words are simple, and come from the phrase “Make music, never stop” that appeared in several CD booklets of bands my friends from high school were in. Before July of 2004, the phrase meant just that. After July, the whole meaning changed, grew, and became a mantra and a memorial. That summer after we all graduated, my friend Sam, one of the members of these bands, and his girlfriend Jenny, died in a car crash. I never told you. It was in the papers, but maybe you missed it. Unlike when other classmates of mine died, you didn’t wake me when the morning paper came to ask me if I knew them. With Sam, I found out myself, and I never told you about it. I went to his visitation at the church where his band often held concerts, and watched my friends cry, and kept my grief to myself. For over two years, I kept my grief to myself. I struggled with the whole thing, knowing that I wasn’t as close to Sam as others were, and feeling guilty when I cried. I felt like it wasn’t my place to be as upset as I was, like that was reserved for family and best friends.

Mere days after we all got the news about Sam, people were already discussing getting matching memorial tattoos. I immediately wanted to be a part of it, but backed off because I felt like I just wasn’t close enough to the situation. After two years of struggling with the issue, and faced with the fact that due to your wish that I not get any new tattoos until I graduated college I would have even more years waiting and wondering, I took the plunge. On my own I chose the words “never stop” as my personal memorial and waited until I found the right artist for the job. He gave me something simple and beautiful, and it was so important and so worth it, that the needle barely even hurt that time around. When I was done, I felt something in me shift. I felt like finally everything had come to rest and was in balance, and I felt comfortable with myself and my grief, and comfortable with the fact that life went on. When I showed my new tattoo to Duncan, another of my friends who was really close to Sam, he was elated. He said I had as much a right to it as anyone did, and that Sam would be happy. When I got that tattoo it was more than just decoration, it was the closure I needed for one of the most difficult periods of my life.

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