Friday, February 10, 2017

My First Tattoo

Something happened on Tuesday, something I've been thinking about for about 15 years (no lie). I got my first tattoo. I've been tossing the idea of getting a tattoo around for a long time (half of my life, since the beginning of The Amuli Chronicles, actually), and I decided I finally knew a design I could never regret. One that would mean something to me every single time I looked at it.

I sent this design to an artist named Sarah recommended to me by a friend. She and I discussed briefly what I was looking for, and she tossed a price out. I skimmed her art and did a little more research on her work and on other local artists and studios before deciding, heck yeah, I want to get my first tattoo from this amazing, burgeoning artist. Supporting emerging artists is important to me, and it's an awesome feeling knowing I will get to walk around with her art on my body forever. Pretty sure I chose right!

The design is important to me for a few reasons. First, it's a character's name from one of my book series (the Soulbound series); next, it's the name of the second character I developed for this series: Marik. The two glyphs (yes, two, not three) are split into mar and ik, meaning literally firstborn blood. I like to joke about how my imaginary friends get angry with me if I work on another series or think about other stories, but it's actually true. I wrote a book outside of The Amuli Chronicles last November for NaNoWriMo, and Marik and the others of my Chronicles were so angry, they are only just now speaking with me again. I understand why they were mad; the new book is fairly far removed from my normal work, and it derailed me emotionally and artistically, but I'm glad I gave it a go.

Back to Marik. In the past, when I've considered giving up and walking away from writing, he has always been the one to pull me back. Clae and Eti, too, and they will eventually get their own marks, but for me, Marik represents more than a character or a good friend. He is the person who repeatedly sees me at my worst; he reflects a lot of who I am when I'm at my worst. Hopeless. Angry. Self-loathing. Wrathful. Self-destructive. All of these things sort of combined into this man (Nicholas is the opposite; he's my manic self, but that's another story), and this man is the reason I continue to write. Because in truth, the story I want to tell belongs to him as much as it does me.

So, I messaged Sarah Tuesday morning and asked if she had a slot open that day. Fate, I figured, would be the one to ultimately decide if I got ink or not. She did! I had to rush a hair appointment (have to go back next week to get the rest done; long story there...), but I made it a little early.

After filling in the disclaimer form (including checking a box noting where I understood that tattoos are *gasp* perminant!), she took me back to her cubicle and we chatted a little about the design I wanted. I tossed out the idea of adding watercolor, and she rolled with it. She explained everything to me--from opening the needle and instrument before me to what the pain might be like (of course, this is what I was the most nervous about!). She offered to do a tiny tester, and I was ultimately surprised at how little it hurt (until the needle hit the middle of my wrist--ouch!).

As she worked on the glyphs, she asked what I was thinking of for the watercolor. She and I had already chosen colors, but not really a design. Sarah suggested something organic, and the idea struck me as perfect. I'm a big lover of things being unique. I love to buy items a little scratched up or worn (my angel from the Thai bazaar in Bangkok is a good example; I have the one they used for display instead of one wrapped in a plastic bag... mine has way more character!).

Some of the black ink smudged, as is wont with tattoos, and I mentioned I liked how the smudges looked. She went with it, and lo and behold, after a few adjustments, this was the design!

I went with bright colors because of my depression. I wanted something I could look at for years and years and still see as bright, as impacting, as a brilliant memory and something to inspire me when I'm at my lowest. The positioning of the tattoo, even, was thoroughly thought through. I wanted to be able to almost accidentally look at the tattoo and be able to smile.

That light, that memory, and the meaning of the tattoo as a whole is very important to me. Beyond firstborn blood, this tattoo stands for so much more. It stands for hope. It stands for my dreams. The ink swimming through my skin is a reminder to never give in. A reminder to fight, to believe in what I want in life, and to keep pushing forward no matter the obstacles.

And it certainly won't be my last.

I think a Gundam tattoo might be in order next (but not for a while! I need to save up and really work on the design until it's perfect; it'll be a bit bigger than this one, but just as meaningful).

Do you have any tattoos? What do they mean to you? If not, have you ever thought about getting one and why? Tell me about your body art/dream body art! This is a dialogue, after all. ;)

Thank you for reading!