Archive for August 8th, 2010

At a dinner the other night, as often happens someone noticed one of my tattoos.

“Are you a big fan of auto racing, or something?”

Easy to spot, the Corvette racing flags on my right wrist could give the impression that I’m proud enough a sports fan to permanently ink a symbol into my skin, but as with all my tattoos the meaning goes much deeper.

At present count I have eight tatts, not one a butterfly, fairy, tribal strip, Celtic symbol, dragon or anything else lifted from the Great Book of Body Art folks rifle through at tattoo parlors the world over, looking for something pretty … or pretty ugly … they’d like to live with for the rest of their days.

My ink IS my flesh.

The first tattoo I had done is of a heart. It’s on my ankle. I got it in Singapore after being released from hospital following yet another tinkering on my ticker as it seemed a spare might be a good idea. It’s red, heart-shaped, and includes very visible bypasses … a good representation of the one still beating in my chest. Below it, the Chinese character that translates to ‘long life’. Both of these were modified last year … a boom time for tatts on me … when Jaren’s name was inked into the heart, and my other children’s were written under Long Life.

I had a musical heart done after anther hospital visit in Singapore. (And, yes, there’s a symmetry to getting tattoos in that ancient port city where so many drunken sailors have been inked that appeals to me.) That was Ernesto-inspired, although he is no fan of ink. That’s what happens when I’m alone for such trauma and drama; I make a point of it … or a whole bunch of points as the case may be.

The racing flags I don’t consider a tattoo at all … it’s a scar.

After Jaren died many of his friends had the flags done on their bodies as a tribute to him. Mine are a tribute to those friends, and placed as they are a constant reminder of the love my boy gave and got … a touchstone, if you will.

My tribute to my son is across my upper back; four bars of his music that I am proud to wear. Somehow … and I’m not compelled to examine my motives on this … having this translatable bit of him on me makes it easier to carry the parts of him I miss so much in me.

I had two new tatts done for my birthday last month, both just for me … standards to bear leading me into the rest of my life.

On my right wrist:

Arcum tenderi Veratum decere

Although the explanation of this … two-thirds of a motto Karen Blixen, one of my literary heros, used to open “Out of Africa” … has long held deep significance for me, it’s the basic reminder to “shoot straight, write true” that has it in front of my face every day as I sit at my keyboard.

Running out of spaces on my body that can still hold ink without wrinkling or sagging, I resorted to a tramp stamp for my last tattoo, this one inspired by one a friend gave herself for her birthday.

Quoconque jeceris stabit

Which means: Whichever way you throw me I will stand. This curves over a wonky heart and proclaims my determination to make it through whatever life … and love … can toss in my path.

I’m well aware that wearing my heart so obviously on my sleeve … or wrist or leg or back or whatever … opens me to comments and questions. Sometimes I’m just … yeah, yeah … a big fan of snazzy Chevys, but there are occasions I welcome the opportunity to let my tattoos tell some of my story.

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