Sunday, September 2, 2012

Tattoos As Personal Archives - You Are Not Alone

I met a woman the other day who is studying tattoos as personal archives.  I thought this was a beautiful and untapped vision of our culture's obsession with ink.

When I left Arizona for California this summer, my lovely Ginger painted my toenails and left me an encrypted message - "Y A N A" spelled out on my toenails.  Anyone who is a Dr. Who fan, as Ginger and I are, knows that this is an important theme - You Are Not Alone.  I certainly felt very alone as I was dealing with my husband's infidelity and desire to extricate himself from our marriage, but the message from my daughter stayed with me.  I didn't remove that nail polish; I let it chip. My toenails grew into monstrous, adorned claws.   I wanted the message to stay with me.

I'm back in Arizona now, in my own home; Ginger is with me three nights a week.  I spend a great deal of time alone, and yet I am not alone. I've made many new friends, done things I never thought I would do in the restrictive confines of marriage, and continue on a path of self discovery.

Last night a new friend went with me to a tattoo parlor. I relied on Han's expert advice to go to my safe place as the needle etched it's ink into my flesh.  Deep breathing, a rocking chair on a wooden porch overlooking reeds and a dock.  Deep, deep breathing.  That doesn't hurt so much, oooh, oooh, deep breathing, cool salty mist blowing on my face.  A sailboat in the distance. Twenty minutes later, I have my eternal reminder that even as I live in my own space, I am definitely not alone.

YANA designed by Andrea Tripodi Matthes
Etched by Chris at Living Ink in Tempe, AZ

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