Thursday, 8 November 2012

Tattooing My Brain

This is a "before" picture. I'm not showing you
an after picture; I don't know you well enough
for you to see that bit of me.
I can assure you it contains several stretch
marks, one of which doubles the length of the
Many people would say she's ruined.
She's seen better days, sure. She's stretched, and warped in odd directions, her colours have faded, and she looks sad. Quite honestly, I don't even look at her much any more and I think about her less often.

She's just... y'know... there. Like the old Coca-Cola sign, faded and tattered above the derelict corner shop where you bought ice creams 20 years ago. Quietly waiting, but bursting with memories. Every glance a different association.

She has her story too.

I have a theory about tattoos. (I say 'I', but I really mean 'we'. Mr. Me and I have mused over this intermittently for a few years now, but for these purposes I'm taking credit; I'm sure he'd do the same.) The theory is, that which we permanently apply to our skin is likely a metaphor, or even a direct screaming of our innermost feelings. And it could perhaps go one of two ways. Taking for instance, those who tattoo their babies' names and birthdates on themselves. They may be doing it because they have so much emotion and pride, they need to permanently put it out there. Or they may care very little, feel guilty about that, and ink themselves to try to assuage the guilt. The beauty is, only the owner truly knows the reason, so there's still hiding to be had if it's wanted.

Last night I lay awake and thought of my Unicorn. What did she mean then, and is she still relevant to me now?

I'm going to be honest with you here, I really didn't put a lot of thought into what I would get done when my friend and I decided we'd get tattoos together 16 years ago. I loved horses and so I had a vague notion that it would maybe be of the equine variety. Also, I had decided it would not cost me more than $50, and that's what I took with me in cash. There was nothing in their pictures that I wanted... Except my wee unicorn. And she was $120. Well, it wasn't as if I was painting my wall and could change later, was it? I borrowed the balance from my friend and never regretted it.

Still, what did she mean?

When I look at her now, I am reminded of how she was. Fine, delicate lines. Colourful, wild, feminine, strong... Such a mythical creature couldn't possibly exist, but there she was. And when I think about it: that's how I felt about myself. I was young and strong, almost arrogantly confidant about who I was and what I could do. And at the same time, I was feminine and delicate and empathetic. I felt beautiful.

Is she still relevant to me?

You can see she's been in the wars. She has hugged three children close as they grew strong enough to be born, and paid the price. She has expanded against her will as I have expanded and contracted over the years. She has battled with me.

Just like when you see the weathered coca-cola sign you think fondly of the summers of your youth, when I see my Unicorn, I'm reminded of the real her: courageous and full of self worth. And she in turn reminds me of the real me. The one I very often forget exists. The me who has been stretched and warped and feels blurred and faded and sometimes, so very very sad. She knows me. Yes she's relevant. I love her.

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1 comment:

  1. that unicorn is sweet but i think the generosity with which you remember the girl who had her inked on 16 years ago is the sweetest.
    (and here's to lengthening your #nablopomo streak. cheers!)


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