that’s what i said when my high school bestie decorated his arms (and later his back and legs) in permanent ink. ignoring the fact that i had two teeny tiny (and hidden) ink marks of my own (hypocrisy at it’s finest, folks).
i blame my dad for my perspective on body art. he despised it. one of the most terrifying days of my life was telling my dad that i had marred my body (incidentally it was also the day that i ended my engagement, but that’s a completely different story)…
in my defense, my ink was not visible (unless i was in a state of undress, which i never was in front of my dad…so, i’m no longer sure why i even told him – something about honesty)…
i think the biggest reason a visible tattoo never appealed to me is because i’m not that good at committing to anything long term (boyfriend, if you’re reading this, it doesn’t apply to you). for instance, every time i’ve considered cutting my hair, my impending anxiety attack has stopped me before i’ve made it to the salon chair.
also, i’m a realist. if i were to get a tattoo everyone could see and regret it, i can’t just wait for it to grow out like a haircut. tattoos are for always. and i much prefer the concept of “forever. for now.” (again boyfriend, not applicable to you)
“forever” is a long time, so i don’t use the term lightly. however, something happened in my life that forever altered the fabric of my soul. my dad was my hero, my best friend, my confidant and my trusted advisor. he was my shopping buddy, my partner in crime, the person with whom i most often both laughed and cried. moreover, he was a generous, loving and caring father to my brother and me, as well as our children (read: dogs). in short, he was the sunshine of my world.
…until the cancer overtook his body. then, swiftly and cruelly, baba’s light was snuffed out.
following his passing, my brain stuttered as i repeated, like a broken doll, “i don’t know what to do.” i was paralyzed. unable to move. to think. to sleep. to breathe. tasks that once seemed easy were now difficult. and those tasks that were once difficult now seemed impossible. moving forward without my dad in my life was a monumental chore.
in baba’s profound absence, i lost all sense of identity. who was i without my dad?
i wasn’t sure.
as a result, my universe turned disjointed and unstable. week on week, i muddled along, but i wasn’t really living. i certainly wasn’t embracing or enjoying life because i think i forgot how.
then, i came across something he wrote. it was my name. in farsi.
several months prior, i had asked him to write my name and i kept it tucked away in my wallet, though for what i was never really sure…
ding, ding, ding!
it was as if a bell went off inside my soul.
since baba had passed, i felt like i had lost the rhythmic beating of my own heart, but suddenly a thumping returned in my chest.
i felt like a kid strolling the toy aisle, spotting a coveted treasure on the shelf and declaring with breathless anticipation, “i need that!”
i knew that every second of every day for the rest of my life, i would feel that baba was missing not only from my world but also from my being. suddenly the notion of having a “forever” that was linked to him inked on me sounded like a fabulous idea.
i opted for a wrist tattoo (in white ink) because i wanted it to be easily visible to me and rationalized that i could also easily cover it with a mass of bangles if i ever felt like it. it’s discreet enough that people don’t notice it unless i point it out. and yet, it’s always in plain view.
three years later, i still admire the heartfelt sentiment scrawled across my dainty wrist and it frequently evokes a fast, fluttery sensation to tumble through me when i remember my dad.
and even though baba was vehemently anti-tattoo, i like to think that maybe he would approve of this one.