My family is staunchly against tattoos. I have a lot of female cousins with tattoos and there’s a permanent recording in my head of both my mother and my grandmother’s response to their body art. Look at you with those tattoos. Don’t you know your body is temple given to you from God. So, even I’m still shocked that I actually got a tattoo, because at some point I’m bound to hear the outrage of my family members.
For the record, I didn’t get a tattoo just to be a rebel, I actually got it because it’s something close to my heart. It’s located on the inner portion of my left bicep, a discreet, yet visible place. And it’s beautiful. At least in my eyes. I had been thinking about getting tattoos as young as 11. Granted, the thoughts weren’t of the serious variety, but they were there. It wasn’t until my senior of high school, where I had an idea of something that would be worth tattooing on my body. God is Love, Love is God. I had divulged my idea to a girl I was close to at the time, and she seemed to like it. I suggested that maybe we could both get it and she also seemed to like that as well. It wasn’t until the girl and I drifted apart, that I kind of soured on the idea of getting a tattoo.
Two years later, the idea of getting a tattoo swirled around in my head again. The core idea remained. But it had evolved. Instead of looking at tattoos, as just that, I began to look at them for their artistic and aesthetic qualities. My renewed idea took shape in the form of a partial sleeve – a tattoo that would cover up the bicep of my arm, like a sleeve. I shortened Love is God to Love is… . I was in a drastically different place mentally and spiritually then I was as senior in high school and I felt by leaving off God, it would allow me freedom to interpret whatever I felt love was at that time. The new addition was the idea of clouds, surrounded by stars with the moon hovering above it. Completely unrelated to the Love is… portion, it represented both ambition and alienation. The saying goes, “the sky’s the limit.” Well, I wanted to soar past the sky. And the alienation is the moon itself, alone with no inhabitants, taking its place amongst the stars.
Once I had figured out the idea, I set a date. I decided I was going to get it done on my 21st birthday. As usual, things didn’t go as planned, which was probably for the best, because the day after my 21st birthday my car died. A couple of my friends who I told the idea to and who had also gotten tattoos themselves figured that I would renege on my promise. While they doubted my desires to get inked, I was waiting for the necessary funds to finally do it. During this time, I decided to scale back the idea. In the process of coming up with something that would fill the space of my arm, I lost some of the symbolism that made me want to get a tattoo in the first place. One day I was at my apartment and the idea struck me instantly: Love is with eight stars randomly assorted around it. Three stars would be shaded red, which is my favorite color, to represent each of my sisters, two stars would be partially shaded, representing both my mother and my aunt Jenae and three stars would be shaded black for my nana, granny and late great-granny, who passed away when I was 17. It made sense. Now all I had to do was find the place and set the date.
I finally lost my tattoo virginity on January 16th. And I am proud to say that I’m more than pleased with the results. While I haven’t told my family about my body art, I am sure they won’t be too pleased, but I believe they’ll appreciate the gesture. And in the end, when I’m old and withered, I will know without a doubt in my heart that love is located on my left inner bicep and the stars will remind me of all the love I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in my lifetime.