Engraved

Having tattoos comes with admiration, curiosity, side glances, dead stares, off kilter comments and abrupt questions. Not necessarily all of these and not necessarily in that order but these things certainly do come with the territory. Being a woman with tattoos was not my introduction to this kind of attention. I grew up having a disability so the stares have always been there but after I started getting tattooed the attention was somewhat diverted from the way I walk, depending on on how much skin I was showing. I’ve dealt with ignorant onlookers since my childhood, all that’s changed is the subject matter that people inquire about. 

I usually don’t mind when people ask about my tattoos, they represent the most important things in the world to me. If it’s a damn good story, of course it’s worth telling. Just like I usually don’t mind when people ask to pet my Service Dog, especially when they’re polite about it, I appreciate the polite approach because not everyone has manners. That being said, there is a time and place for everything, just as it says in Ecclesiastes. I don’t mind when others ask about my ink or my dog or on occasion my disability. My advice when dealing with a personal subject matter is be careful how you ask. It’s not what you ask, it’s how you ask it. Be as polite as possible and if you don’t know how, at least try, decent people recognize decent effort and respect is key. Although, even with a considerate, sheepish approach and expert manners I’m not always a willing participant in the game of twenty questions. I enjoy people and I’m social about 60% of the time but I’m also a writer, which means I spend heaps of time in my head. Plus my personality is more like a cat’s than a dog’s. Which isn’t always for the best since I walk around with the cutest LGX there ever was and just about everyone freaks out over dogs every single time they see one. Seriously, with reactions I get you would think I walk around with a panther on a leash. As an active member in society with a Service Dog I would just like to say, please calm down people. Sometimes it’s best to just go home and pet your own dog. I’m usually busy when out and about so there’s not many moments when petting my dog is possible. We have places to be and he has a job to do. Same goes for me and my tattoos, there’s not always time to talk and if I don’t know who I’m talking to I won’t want to tell the whole truth. Tattoos are tales to tell but they’re my stories to share and I decide who to tell them to.

When someone notices a person’s tattoos and blurts out, “why would you do something so permanent?” It’s a conscious effort for me to bite my tongue. What do people want to hear when they ask something like this? To me it feels like a passive aggressive method of patronization. Just because they don’t have tattoos, does that mean they think those who have them should regret it? Whatever the reason for asking, it’s a rude way to start a conversation. Think about it, stranger to stranger, that approach isn’t going to win any friends. This wasn’t a question that was asked to me which is good because I don’t do well with thoughtless curiosity. I have a sharp tongue and I’m not one to shy away from confrontation, especially if it’s over something I care about. This question about tattoos and their permanence was asked to a friend of mine who is much nicer than I am. The question must’ve been prompted by her tattoos representing her faith in Christ, read that story here, because it was followed up with a gesture to a cross dangling from a chain and the statement “I can take this off whenever I want.” Implying that her tattoos and his jewelry meant the same thing. They may represent the same Jesus but the meaning for nearly everything varies from person to person. Making a crass assumption like that is not the brightest idea. You know what they say about people who assume.

Why bother with something as permanent as a tattoo? It wasn’t my question but I’ll answer it. I’ll answer this question from the ignoramus who dared to ask this so bluntly. If someone questioned my permanent staples of faith or any of the other things I chose to tattoo my body and then compared them to their accessories, implying that temporary things are a wiser investment, I would answer their question with a question. I would ask them, If what they believe is so important that they wear something every day as a reminder, how is that different than a tattoo? Doesn’t the fact that they can remove it anytime they want actually make it less meaningful? The permanence of tattoos is what draws me to the artform. They are permanent reminders of what matters most to me. If you wear a necklace and I wear a tattoo, which one seems more committed? Does something really matter to you if you’re not willing to make it permanent? I would say that a necklace or a T-shirt or a bumper sticker is relatively weak in comparison. Not that these things are bad, I just think if you mean it, you should mean it entirely. Irrevocably and unabashedly. That’s what tattoos are to me, bold statements that require bravery. So, mister why bother with tattoos guy, why aren’t you gutsy enough to have any? Maybe us people with the tattoos aren’t dumb, maybe you’re just not all that brave. Do you really believe what you believe? Or do you want to keep it in a temporary form such as a necklace so you can undo the clasp and let the chain and the charm fall to the floor on the days when you’re just not feeling it anymore? Ever think the fact that tattoos will last as long as life does is why people want them? It’s why I do it least. Rien n’est éternel, nothing last forever. In my short little life I’ve lost everything I have loved in one way or another and it’s rare that those things come back, especially when they’re people. Life is fleeting and things get lost. Not my tattoos though. Even if Cash’s is cover is correct and “everyone I know goes away in the end” as long as I am in my body I will still have my tattoos. To me, that is the most comforting thing. 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Tattoo artist, Rods Jimenez

Why would I get tattooed when it’s permanent? I do it because I believe in it, because it matters to me and if what I believe matters so damn much to me that I live for it so unashamedly, I might as well wear in permanently until the death of me. Think about the pieces of history people make valiant efforts to preserve: birth records, memorials, plaques, headstones, wedding rings, vows and promises. The things people don’t want to lose are the things that matter more than anything else. Permanence is a plus because commitment doesn’t scare me. Permanence is something I invest in proudly. It is an investment because tattoos are not cheap, not the good ones anyway. They are permanent illustrations of me, that will be here as long as I am so of course they matter. If they don’t matter to you, that doesn’t matter to me because I’m the one who gets to walk away wearing them. So next time instead of glancing and guessing, stop and think.

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7 thoughts on “Engraved

  1. Good story, You said things that I haven’t really thought of. But like you said you’re a writer and you live alot in your head.

    My favorite tattoo is the first I got, which was recently, and this started the entire tattoo thing for me. My first says RO VIII:XXVIII or Romans 8:28. My favorite verse in the Bible and there are many I assure you. This verse says
    “and we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him and have been called to His purpose.”

    I hang on the words ‘all things’ that means divorce, being cheated on, illness, wealth, poverty….all things.

    I look at people who have a “normal” life and think that maybe somethings missing. I have had so much pain recently that its hard not to look up and smile. Strange isnt it, to look up and smile because of pain, but we are told that God is working in our lives to produce something else, something better and He is doing this through the pain.

    I am planning my next tattoo, I want a cross of some sort.

    Ideas?

    1. Amen to that. Such a great verse. It is a strange thing to smile because of suffering but our God is so great He makes that possible. I love that about Him, it makes all the madness less maddening.

      Whenever I’m thinking of a new tattoo I usually choose the style I want it in first. With crosses in particular the options are endless. Traditional, realistic, watercolor, black and gray etc. Another important factor is where on your body you want to get it and how big. Those things are my basic outline when I’m daydreaming new tattoos. I write my ideas down and keep inspiration photos for a few months just to be sure I’m still committed. Hope that helps, thanx for reading!

      1. I have decided on my new tattoo. Im going big, 1/2 sleeve. Im having my artist design a Templar Knight around the scripture of Joshua 1:9 Be strong and courageous as the Lord your God is with you.

        It feels like I have been so long in the desert that I need to take some time to walk in the forest. I find the forest to be refreshing and healing.

  2. I find myself drawn back to this story. Im the kind of guy that will read something or watch something, and chews on it for a while. I also find that if I read/watch and go, then I miss something. This story is a case in point.

    For example; you wrote “The permanence of tattoos is what draws me to the artform. They are permanent reminders of what matters most to me. If you wear a necklace and I wear a tattoo, which one seems more committed? Does something really matter to you if you’re not willing to make it permanent? I would say that a necklace or a T-shirt or a bumper sticker is relatively weak in comparison. Not that these things are bad, I just think if you mean it, you should mean it entirely. Irrevocably and unabashedly. That’s what tattoos are to me, bold statements that require bravery.”

    Permanence and bold statements that require bravery. Well chosen words and true. Although in working through those words, an image of US (Us being those of us who believe in the words permanence and bravery) emerges. WE want permanence in our lives and a boldness to create/maintain permanence. That does take bravery, especially in this world where temporary rules. Especially in relationships.

    Relationships now are encouraged to be dysfunctional. Ok maybe thats a strong word, but look at what the world says. Get married? Sure, but it should last only until its not fun any more or convenient. How many stories do you read where the wife/lover is pregnant and the husband/lover is cheating? Although the world doesn’t call it cheating they use words like affair or something benign like that.

    So what does that have to do with tattoos? Like you said permanence. A healthy relationship should be just like a tattoo. Age gracefully and be permanent.

    I think I need more coffee lol.Have a great day, and please keep writing. I do enjoy your thoughts.

    1. Love what you said, “A healthy relationship should be just like a tattoo. Age gracefully and be permanent.” I’ll probably use that someday, some way. Though I can already hear myself contradicting it. I even mentioned it in this post, nothing lasts, not even people, which is what draws me to tattoos. Even so, it’s not like the search for a healthy, graceful, as permanent as possible relationship is over and if tattoos are involved, that’s even better! Good words, thanx for reading!!

      1. You have my permission to use my words lol.

        However I do have a minor disagreement with what you wrote. You said (I am using the entire thought) “Though I can already hear myself contradicting it. I even mentioned it in this post, nothing lasts, not even people, which is what draws me to tattoos.”

        Nothing lasts, not even people.

        I disagree. Love lasts, and longer than people. For example, my mother and father were married for almost 60 years. They both loved all three of us without limit. They sacrificed for us and provided us with the ground work of how to love unconditionally and to have a long lasting marriage. I have failed at this. My marriage of 16 years is done (not my choice), however my sisters married out of High School and are about 30 years in, both have fulfilled marriages.

        When my parents passed away a few years ago, they left a legacy of love. To this day we feel it. My moms love for the Savior and her fervent love and prayers for me, as the black sheep traveler and troublemaker in the family, was hugely instrumental in me coming to a place of faith on February 5,1989. That was also the day that my mother and I became the closest of friends. And I miss her dearly. See? Love lasts.

        I think that’s the very thing I’m searching for. I also think that’s the very thing I’ll never find. In the meantime I’ll take a tattoo. If my mother saw my tattoos she would have a major cow, as only a mother could do lol.

        I read a quote yesterday and thought you might like it. “When was the last time you had a first time at anything?” from Sammy Hagar

        My answer, yesterday. I did something for the first time ever…

        Write on and have a great Sunday

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