Does the Tattoo Change the Woman?

I waited a long time to get a tattoo. I put it off for twenty years while I fretted that it would give people the wrong impression about me as I started my public relations firm. Then I was worried it would somehow damage my credibility when I became a mother. But I never lost interest in the idea.

In March 2020, just before the pandemic came into full swing, I visited New Orleans to write for a week and jumpstart Book 3. It’s easy to be consumed with people watching in such a sexy city, and I saw some folks with great art on their bodies. 

The day after I came home, San Francisco issued its Shelter in Place (SIP) order and life as we know it pretty much came to a halt. The whole swiftness of the change, the dramatic way in which our lives were upended inspired me to give more credence to my desires. I started wearing temporary tattoos and spending more time with my writing. Like many of you, I was on Zoom all day, but my need to be so buttoned down was diminishing and people didn’t seem to care.
I began investigating local tattoo artists and found one – unfortunately his studio was closed for most of the year. I finally got started on November 11, 2020 with my first piece and expect to do the second half in May this year, which will feature birds in flight.

The entire process of getting a tattoo is much more comprehensive than one might imagine. At least it was for me with Brucius. He spent a lot of time examining the kind of feather, its size and orientation on my arm. The time it took to set up a sterile space and to make me comfortable all lent itself to a sense of preparation and transition. As soon as the needle hit my skin and the pain began, I felt a transformation taking place. While mildly uncomfortable, the pain was also spiritual and it marked the line between before and after. The time when I was unwilling to seek out the things I wanted and the time after. 

I write a lot about the transformation of women. In my stories the changes that take place have to do with becoming warriors and defining their own destinies. In fiction the stories are dramatic, like finding out you are the daughter of a witch and have to learn how to defend yourself from a list of enemies you never knew existed. But in our everyday lives, women transform themselves as they leave behind their worries and fears or someone else’s expectations. We grow from girls to women and along the way collect experiences about our bodies, our minds and the world around us that change and redefine us. Did getting a tattoo change me? In subtle ways, it did. If only because I had the courage to do something that I’d wanted to do for two decades and in seeing it done, I gained a little more control over my destiny.