Thursday, February 11, 2010

To tattoo or not to?

I talked it up so much. My 25th year and 2009 had been so wildly eventful (that's one word to describe it) that I felt it needed to be commemorated in some serious way. So I started tossing the word "tattoo" into conversations, preceded by the words, "I think I'm going to get a..." I told my mom, my grandparents, my friends...you get the picture. And what a debate this sparked!

Some were wildly supportive and pledged to hold my hand while I got it done, and others went a step further, saying they'd get one with me! One friend even offered to make an excursion of it and drive us to Savannah to get one on New Year's Day. But then New Year's Day came and sitting on the couch eating cheesecake seemed like a more realistic goal.

Others were less thrilled. I got several adamant "NO!" responses, and strangely, none of these people were my family members, who just shook their heads with resignation. The friends against the tattoo idea pointed out that in our culture, being ink-free is becoming more of a statement than getting it. Another was more poetic, saying things in his charming accent like, "Oh, but your skin's so lovely unmarred..."

And I thought about aging and saggy skin and all the gruesome things pregnancy could do (not yet, folks, but someday) and I've chickened out again.

However, there's this reoccurring symbol: birds, specifically starlings. If I were to get a tattoo, I would get tiny starlings scattered like buckshot on my left side, on my ribs, intermingling with my fading scars. The thing about starlings is, they're small but fierce. They have complex language and absorb what they hear around them. They fly in the most amazing patterns.

Not only that, but as I mentioned in my birthday post, a particular section of "Starlings in Winter" has become my theme for the year, if not the rest of my life: "I want to think again of dangerous and noble things. I want to be light and frolicsome. I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,as though I had wings."

And there's Jónsi's song "Go Do" from yesterday's post where he has a bird on his shoulder, and feathers around his eyes and in his hair, and he sings, "Go sing, too loud/Make your voice break--sing it out/Go scream, do shout..." and then ends the song with, "You will survive, we'll never stop wonders/You and sunrise will never fall under/We should always know that we can do anything." The song is an anthem for living life to the fullest, to say the least.

And there are the starlings I see on my drive home from work...a smudge of black on the sky at dusk tends to leave you breathless, especially with the patterns they form and how they all move as one, with the most intricate choreography. You could put music to it. (In fact, in a way, someone has turned starlings into music.)

Oh, and there's this: "Once I smiled in secret at the gossip of the starlings..."

And that lovely song, "Starlings" by Elbow, where he sings: "Sit with me a while and let me listen to you talk about your dreams and your obsessions/I'll be quiet and confessional/The violets explode inside me when I meet your eyes/ Then I'm spinning and I'm diving like a cloud of starlings/Darling is this love?"


The Matrix: Featuring Millions of Black Birds from Jeff Grewe on Vimeo.


We'll see, we'll see.

3 comments:

Southey said...

I say go for it. I honestly would probably try and get 30 more tattoos if I was in any other profession.

Sadly in the acting world having tattoos limits the roles you can audition for and basically means you can never audition for a commercial unless they want someone specifically with tats.

It's a neat feeling getting something etched onto your body for all eternity. Kind of a neat way of doing something that you can't switch or change later on. With everything in the world customizable at any moment in time it's strange to have something that is done once and just exists.

Your idea sounds really neat too, I might have frowned upon you getting one had you said you were planning on deciding between barbed wire around your upper arm or a small butterfly resting ever so softly on the small of your back.

Sabrina said...

Hahah..."a small butterfly resting ever so softly on the small of your back." That sounds like such a rare and exotic tattoo!

Southey said...

Haha, it is an exotic breed of butterfly, the scientific name is Trampius Stampicus and their natural habitat is Myrtle Beach, Daytona Beach, or anywhere else that spring breakers frequent.

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