I made the mistake of scrolling through Twitter while having my morning coffee. Anxiety-inducing caffeine mixed with anxiety-inducing messages about how health care changes are going to influence us all swirl like the cinnamon in my cup. Today’s choice makes my stomach hurt – health care, not my coffee.
I’ve got to stop starting my day on social media.
Coffee time needs to be for Jesus, for devotionals, for lists of gratitude and prayers and hopes.
So I write, to calm my anxiety, and to ground myself in the good again. Putting words on ‘paper’ often times is the only thing that makes sense.
The phrase ‘pen to paper’ really seems to lose its romance when you think about how people write their thoughts these days. ‘Put your fingers to the keyboard’ has none of the glamour. No images of writers struggling are conjured with the act of typing. Click click click on a keyboard – the nostalgia is gone. You can’t smell typing like you can a ball point pen. The beautiful smell of ink coming out of a ball point pen.
Pre-death, I always said I would only get a tattoo if I had something big to remember. If I went through something tragic, or lost someone.
Damn. I have lived through both.
I wrote a letter to my dad on the year anniversary of his death. In my ramblings, and through my tears, I wrote about how proud he would have been of my brother who has lots of tattoos:
You should see Sam, Dad. His long hair and big muscles and tattoos to remember you by. How we ink our skin in hopes of putting you and your legacy back into our bodies, to absorb you yet again into our blood. I want one, a tattoo to remember you by. I’m kind of scared though. Needles and me don’t get along. That’s something we had in common too. What would you get? Your handwriting on my arm? That chicken scratch scrawl that used to drive me nuts.
I went back and forth, for that fear of needles is real for me. Could I be brave enough to make such a permanent choice?
A few weeks later I was reading the handwritten speech Dad gave at my wedding. At the bottom of the paper he had scrawled his favorite phrase of adoration, ‘love you much.’
“Do it”, he whispered through those words on paper, “mix my words with your blood and carry me with you permanently.”
And so I did. I met a beautiful tattoo artist who accepted my whole family into his studio with compassion. My mom embarrassed me exclaiming to Jordan, “but you are just so normal!” He laughed her words right off his shoulders.
Jordan took Dad’s handwriting and made it beautiful. Figured out how to transfer the letters onto my skin. Held my arm, made sure the words were straight, transferred Dad’s legacy onto my skin and deeper into my blood. Words and love made permanent through ink.
Here it is:
Needle to skin has shimmers of beauty too. Writing stories on our skin. Ink.
For more information on the studio Heart & Skin visit their website.