My grandmother is a product of her generation much as I am of mine. As such when she sees and thinks of tattoos she thinks criminals and when I see them I wonder what the tattoos represent for that person’s life story.
I’ve known that for a long time, but had it nailed home when she pointed at the “live” on my hand disapprovingly. I said to her with zero ambiguity that it’s there because far too often I need the reminder.
I recently asked my mother if it’s worth explaining to my grandmother about how all my tattoos represent me and she, understandably, put the kibosh on that right quick. As such I figured I’d tell my ink’s story online so that all the world might see I’m a criminal in disguise (I promise I’m not).
My largest tattoo is on my back. The left is the base for it. It’s a piece of Tunisian street art from the commencement of the Arab Spring. The Arabic in the bottom right hand corner says, “Our weapons are but flowers.” The translation is what is in the flowers on the right. I have a book surrounding the barrel because I’m me…and book!
My next largest piece is my Jada Star’s angel. If you’ve interacted with me ever you know Jada Star is the niece who never got a chance to meet me, but had a profound impact on me. The star was the first step. Because Jada Star. The angel sprouted up around her to protect her. The stone over the angel was added to protect them both.
On the backside of Jada Star is SLU’s motto and two years of note (that of the founding and that of my graduation).
An important reminder.
An equally important reminder to me is write on my left hand. I need to be reminded to do so in many venues for many reasons.
I’ve had people ask if it’s on my left hand because I’m a lefty. I’ve had to vehemently deny because just the thought of attempting to be lefty is a joke. The reason I got it there is that when I’m writing, whether pen and paper or computer, I’m not able to avoid the reminder of what to do.
My tattoos are such an integral part of who I am. A reminder of things needing to be remembered and of values that I hold particularly close to me.
So, no, Grandma. I’m not a criminal (I’m far too empathetic and honest to be one). I just need to be reminded of things in more ways than being told how I’m doing things wrong.
So thank you, Internet, for listening to me today. I needed to be reminded of these things today so that I don’t lose myself.