Falling in love with the world is harder for some. In the words of Elizabeth Gilbert, “‘I’m going to get out of bed’ is sometimes the most heroic sentence of the day.” On the days I don’t want to get out of bed, I feel the world crashing around me. Expectations and guilt weigh on me heavier than my broken heart and nothing feels like it could take the stress off of my shoulders. Writing helps sometimes, but other forms of art tend to do the trick a little bit better.
Tattoos were always taboo in my house growing up. I remember my dad telling me, “If you get a tattoo before you move out, you’ll be moving out.” I didn’t mind so much, as back then tattoos seemed like a waste of money. Why would I pay to be in pain for hours just to have a doodle drawn on me? Well, it’s safe to say that my mind has been changed.
I got my first tattoo at 19. I was scared out of my mind, confused and excited all at the same time! I got to the studio over an hour early and sat in my car contemplating just driving home. But I didn’t. It was probably the most costly mistake of my life. I’m only three tattoos in now, some 3 years later, but I’ve spent my fair share on what seem to be “silly doodles”.
One in particular is my favorite addition. I got it on a whim when passing by a tattoo parlor one day. I decided I was going to treat myself, and treat myself, I did - to a painful experience. I can’t quite describe it, but growing up so sheltered makes the experience that much more freeing and liberating. I don’t feel the expectations under the needle. I don’t feel the crushing expectations or guilt, because there is none to be had when laying on that kind of bed. The artists could care less about what’s going on my body, it’s just another payday for them. For me it’s freedom. Freedom and compassion I’ve owed to myself for a long time.
On a whim I messaged a tattoo parlor. I got a response within an hour telling me that they had an opening that same afternoon. I jumped at the chance and chugged water in preparation(if you know, you know). I contemplated which design to get for hours. Going between this and that, something fun and something meaningful. In the end I went with the fun, but it ended up being a lot more than that.
The artist was nice enough. Again, I don't think he really cared much about what I was getting. My nerves were high and adrenaline was rushing when he first started his machine. I watched him trace the words. The planets. The random dot in the middle of the circle. To him it was probably odd. It wasn’t capitalized where it should be, and there wasn’t a single straight line, but to me, it was beyond perfect. $150 later, and I was back in my car feeling on top of the world. I had forgotten about the week before, where I didn’t have the strength to shower, nonetheless I leave the house. I felt like my life was a disgrace, like I was a fraud. But that didn’t matter anymore. I just got new ink.
The tattoo is weird. Maybe that’s why I like it so much. It’s a symbol of a happy day, a good day where the world screamed color and the wind sang me ballads. And on my bad days now, I think back to it, waiting for the feeling to return. I see the planets on my arm. The lines, crooked and jagged. I trace the letters with my fingernail. They're weird, but perfect.
It says “Universe i love you.” And although that statement may not always be true, It makes me rethink why it isn’t so simple to fall in love with life again. It makes me happy to know that I had a good day, and gives me hope thinking it will happen again. The universe hasn’t given me much in this life, but it gave me a blank canvas to fill with my story. And falling in love with the universe, with life, is a chapter I haven’t written yet. But it’s coming. And I can’t wait until then.