My husband is not a fan of tattoos. Or facial piercings, or piercings in general, or really any kind of body modification. It’s not an ethical or religious objection (being a “devout” atheist), it’s just not part of his aesthetic. And hey, that’s fine. If he wants to be wrong, that’s his prerogative.
I love tattoos. I also love piercings, for what it’s worth, but tattoos are my jam – tattoos can tell a story. They don’t have to, mind you; there’s nothing wrong with getting a tattoo done for the sheer aesthetic pleasure of it. But it can have a meaning. And more than that, it can convey a meaning. I’ve got a gorgeous pair of white diamond earrings a friend of mine bought me as a bridesmaid’s gift when I served in her wedding. Those earrings have a great deal of meaning to me, but they don’t convey anything to others; no one stops to ask what my earrings “mean.” I love that tattoos can start a conversation. I love that they can have layers.
In case you are wondering, I have roughly, um, zero tattoos. Not for lack of wanting, obviously, but for an abject fear of needles.
(But Jess, I hear you say, didn’t you give birth? Surely the pain of childbirth can’t hold a candle to getting a tattoo!
I did give birth. In fact, I labored for nineteen hours. But I also got an epidural. Not that it was a walk in the park after that, but it was a damn sight more pleasant than it had been.
But… Jess, you continue, confused. Isn’t an epidural, like… a big-ass needle? Used to insert a catheter?? Right into your spine???
Yeah, it — you know what? I don’t owe you an explanation for this, imaginary reader. Just, needles suck, ok?)
I’m still psyching myself up for one, because I know the fear is irrational, especially – yes – in light of having gone through childbirth. Even pushing aside the birth itself and the epidural, it’s not like the doctors don’t try to practically drain you of blood at every chance. By my third trimester I went from needing a glass of cold water and a lie-down after a simple injection to texting with one arm while the doctors drew multiple vials of blood from the other. Broken of that routine, though, the fear returned. Funny how the psyche works.
I don’t want anything overly large, which is helpful in trying to gear myself up for it; I love the look of full sleeve tattoos, watercolor tats, geometric designs, etc., but my own aesthetic has always leaned toward monochrome and typography.
I’m a text tattoo baby. Always have been. And while I’m still revving myself up for one, I have several that I’d love to get done:
There are locked doors and closed windows in your mind, and dark rooms behind them.
(The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers)
and I am a writer / a writer of fictions / (I am the heart that you call home)
(“The Engine Driver,” The Decemberists)
With this long last rush of air we speak our vows and sorry whispers
(“Hazards of Love IV: The Drowned,” The Decemberists)
You shall above all things be Glad and Young
Fearfully and wonderfully made
(from Psalm 139:14)
You shall love your crooked neighbor / with all your crooked heart
(“As I Walked Out One Evening,” W.H. Auden)
You can see a growing Pinterest gallery of other tattoos I love here – if that’s your thing.
**I came to my husband one day professing gleefully that I knew how I could get through the tattoo without freaking out. Was really bummed out when he told me no reputable place would tattoo me if I was drunk. Damn it.