I think I am ready to get my first tattoo. A Phoenix Rising. The phoenix is legend on all continents. Glorious to behold, magical, caring, ancient, and when it is time, the phoenix builds a nest of frankincense and myrrh, and lights the whole thing along with itself on fire. From the ashes emerges a phoenix egg to start the cycle again. “Without the help of Supreme Heaven it is not easy to acquire wisdom, but it is a sign that Heaven has sent me to help you. I can make myself large enough to carry the largest town upon my back, or small enough to pass through the smallest keyhole. I know all of the princes and princesses and they all recognize my song” says the phoenix.
My best friend and I both want to get a phoenix tattoo honoring our vow to recognize the mythological, caring, every splendid, ever changing creature in each other. A tattoo tribute to our role as a voice of courage, reflection, reason, and support for each other in the inevitable times when everything we created is burning in flames by our own hand. To remind each other that from this, as with the last fire comes an egg harboring a whole new creature of legend.
That is why people get tattoos right? We get tattoos to honor and remind us of an event, a commitment, a person. We get them at times of revelation or total abandon. We get them at times when we feel like we truly know ourselves and are proud to show it on our body.
I could put it on my back, but my waist long, unkempt, bounteous hair already tells the story of my priorities about beauty and health. The gray streaks at my temple proudly mark the survival of my decimation by love…twice. Or perhaps that is the gray from when I found myself alone in a foreign country with nowhere to sleep and no one to call for help as it began to snow. My back frames my hair, and my hair tells a big story, leaving no room to give a tattoo justice.
I cannot find a place on my chest for my tattoo. My skin on my face and chest begin to show signs of aging, wrinkles, and sun exposure. I did not heed the advice society gave me to stay out of the sun, slather with protective chemicals, stay out of the dirt, or let the men do the physical labor. I would rather get laugh lines, sunspots, and scars than stay indoors living a protected life.
I could put it on my shoulder, but I have grooves in my shoulders from bra straps. My hormone dance of life gave me a constant struggle to remember that I am more than my extreme hourglass figure. The bra strap dents in my shoulders from my enormous breasts remind me of my journey of growth in sexual boundaries. The grooves remind me of the day I decided NOT to get a breast reduction surgery. The day I decided I was content to honor the genetic cards I am dealt. In a sense, the indentions in my shoulders mark my right of passage from child to woman.
My bicep would be a good place, but I have acne scars that make a remarkable calico pattern. It takes a long time and a considerable amount of effort to journey from insecure to humble. Even though I have always dealt with “problem skin”, I have still been beautiful, I have still been loved. I don’t need to have flawless skin to be adored. I am proud to proclaim my unavoidable lovability every time I wear a tank top.
I love when people have tattoos on their forearms. I would love to have it there. But I am so very hairy. Both of my parents have hairy arms. Hairy forearms tell a story of my lineage.
A Phoenix would look cool on my calf. But on my right calf, there is a distinct birthmark. It is a cluster of freckles about the size of a baseball. When I was little, I always thought that one day beings from another planet might find me via that mark…like it is a map to my home planet. I don’t want to tattoo over my potential ticket home!
From the belly button to the pubic line, that is a great spot to get a tattoo. But that spot is reserved for my appendectomy scar. That little scar is a reminder that at six years old, I almost died on Christmas Day when my appendix burst.
As I search my body for a place to put my first tattoo I realize how many tattoos I already have. Not made in ink, but so many people, events, definitions, and decisions already decorate my body. I am not sure where there is room on my body for another story. The flash of a white scar on my knuckle reminding me of the day I broke up with Jack Daniels (a great and lonely story). Or the fact that my skin is always shiny with scented oils or the large callous on my middle finger because I still write everything on paper before I type it. So many important, defining things in my life already adorn my body in all of my ink-less tattoos.
-BreeLyn DuPertuis 01/04/10