(Find Victoria at http://www.pennyjars.blogspot.com/ and
A regular man ordered a regular coffee. He watched my arm as I collected his money and returned the change. “I've always wanted a tattoo,” he said. I flushed, my arm band was talking again. I asked why he hadn't gotten one. “I've always thought a person's body is like a map,” he said. “ All its scars, and marks, and tattoos show where you've been. I haven't found the right one yet.”
I think about his comment and consider my body—a thing that heals, lets me walk around, feel, taste, see, experience—a thing I take for granted. He was talking about skin, what we see after we see shape, and the marks we wear whether by chance or intent.
Some of us, either through long, drawn-out deliberation or a sudden gasp of instant life, remove our inhibitions, plant our feet on the white hot coals of disregard and take a breath. Then we bleed.
It's impossible to know why any one person chooses to map themselves—an act of rebellion, self-possession, a need to scream-out, to cover or uncover, a dream, a commitment, a loss, a birth. It's a human moment if nothing else, a desire to be one's own self.
My tattoos are faded after 14 years in the sun. They never had any color and are now the dark weather-worn gray of time distilled. I hold no regrets. My daughters, still very young, trace the lines around my arm and the raised knotwork on my neck where the artist went too deep. They know what a tattoo is and wear their own mock ink up and down their little bodies.
At the age of 35 I am again being pulled to the buzz and draw of the tattoo gun, to another moment marked. There are no saviors in the ink, but the resounding hum melding with the intensity of physical sensation creates a euphoric reality that will not be dismissed. Some say there is an addiction in tattooing.
Maybe there is.
I can't remember the name of the man in the coffee shop, but his thoughts poured into my mind a unique perspective on body art, that of a living map, a visual memory, one moment made physical.
Are you a proponent of body art or do you prefer the body be left unmarred by physical decoration? Do you find yourself guarding against or drawn to certain people in regard to their tattoos? What is your perspective on body mapping?