Inkage

I don't have any tattoos. In my extended circle of friends, I think this puts me in the minority.

I've never been against them, or anything. On the contrary, I've toyed with the idea a few times. Years ago, back when I was still in Italy, I kind of dug the idea of getting something on my ankle. The problem was the vagueness of "something": there was no particular image that felt particularly right, one I was sure I'd want to have around on a permanent basis. I once got a temporary henna tattoo, some abstract symbol that was pretty enough. I liked it quite a lot... for two days. Then I was eager for it to fade. The very presence of an unfamiliar design interrupting the evenness of my very pale skin was irritating. I was over it.

This incident pretty much convinced me that I was not the tattooing type. "Getting a tattoo" just wasn't something on my personal bucket list, inking for its own sake seemed pointless, so I accepted my tattooless self and went on my merry way.

Over the years I've seen many tats that I admired a lot, on friends and strangers and the Internet. A well-done half- or full sleeve can be a thing of beauty; certain words or phrases or quotes can be simple but lovely enhancements. Of course, I've also seen a lot of horrible, ugly images that made me wonder what people were thinking when they had them permanently etched onto their body. Or, I always wonder, did they just have the bad luck or poor judgment to end up with an artist who wasn't up to the task? The whole subject seemed complicated and obscure and risky. But, you know, in an abstract way, since I wasn't directly affected in any way. Being the tattooless sort of person and all.

Then, last week, I had a thought. Seemingly out of nowhere, it occurred to me that it might be nice to commemmorate a certain event that is looking promising (though still far from certain) with a tattoo of a very specific image that is both relevant and has personal significance to me.

Huh.

I mulled it over for a few days. Looked up some images of the thing in question online. It's pretty elaborate, the kind of design that would require a lot of skill on the part of the artist, which is daunting, also because it would definitely be an expensive acquisition. Those two factors alone should put me off the whole idea, since I have no idea what I'm doing and the odds of making a costly, horrible mistake are pretty high. And that's without even thinking about the ow factor. I have a pretty high tolerance for pain in some ways (which has gotten me into health trouble more than once, by ignoring or downplaying things I should've paid more attention to), but I'm also a giant baby in others. Back in the 80s I cried when I tried to use an Epilady, for example. This makes me think I'd be a lousy candidate for the kind of complicated tattoo that would require multiple sittings, which is exactly what this one would be.

And yet, I haven't stopped thinking about it. Yesterday I mentioned the idea to a friend, speaking it aloud for the first time. I had him look up some images to show him what I was talking about, and he was immediately enthusiastic. Now, granted, he's recently had his own first tattoo and is still giddy about the whole experience, eager to add more, so not the most unbiased of people on the topic. At the same time, he's also the sort to state his opinion frankly and has excellent aesthetic tastes, so I don't discount his opinion.

Placement is the big issue I'm grappling with. It's hard to explain without showing the image, which I'm reluctant to do at this stage of my thought process. (To my surprise, actually, since when I sat down to write this entry I fully intended to include a photo.) To give you an idea, imagine a triptych painting. The most important part of the image is in the center panel, and that's what I would start (and possibly end) with. It essentially fits into a vertical rectangle, although the tattoo rendering would probably take some liberties with the shape--and, I think, necessarily be a lot less detailed, which may end up being a big mark against the project. If I was happy with the outcome, and didn't die from the experience, I'd like to be open to adding one or both side panels in the future, both of which contribute to the overall beauty and meaning of the image. But something like that would take up a lot of space, so unless I were willing to, say, cover my whole back (which I'm not), it's probably unrealistic. Also, I kind of want to be able to see it myself without a mirror... I think. Or maybe the back of my shoulder would be a better idea, where it would mostly be out of sight. It might be kind of cool to be able to forget about the tattoo entirely, only to be surprised by the occasional glimpse, a reminder that there are parts of myself that are always there, even when I can't see them myself. Hmm.

So, as you can see, I'm still ambivalent on the subject. And confused. But it's the first time I've ever had anything approaching a serious thought about getting inked, so whether or not it eventually happens, I figure the thought itself is worth documenting. I won't even know whether there will be something to commemorate until late spring of next year, so meanwhile I'll just sit with the idea and see how I feel about it when and if the time comes.