Taboo Tattoo

There was a time in my life when I really H-A-T-E-D tattoos. I thought they were the epitome of cheeseball and tacky. Seriously. When I first discovered that Mason had inked himself prior to our dating, I was stunned and kind of grossed out. "Who is this person," I thought to myself. "What kind of guy does this himself?" It took me a really long time to accept his body art as part of the person that I loved. Sometimes his tattoo would annoy me, sometimes it would embarrass me, sometimes I just wouldn't look at it.

I'm not really sure when all of that changed, but I believe it had to do with Clare. No, not our littlest Clare, but big Clare. Clare is one of these amazing people that you hope to get to meet in your life, and to be able to call her a friend and for her to call me a friend...there isn't a higher "friend" honor than that. She's one of the great women in my life and has changed many a "Lael" behavior for the better. There will be a Clare blog one day...but not today.

Clare got the most beautiful tattoo of Buddha eyes that I have ever seen and it was representative of something so vital to her that she wanted it with her forever, and there it was, the realization that a tattoo can be inspirational and art. So in October 2003, I learned to love tattoos. I also began to contemplate my own. Once I broke free of the tattoo taboo, it was all I could think of. It consumed me. One of the great and freeing things about a tattoo is that you get to decide what you put on your body, where you put it, who does it. You get to define a little piece of yourself. You get your very own conversation piece that can segway into a personal conversation about yourself with a total stranger if you want or you can just let your body speak for itself.

What did I want my body to say?? I wanted it to express something about myself, but what? One night, in April of 2005, I finally settled on my instrument. Specifically a cello. Suddenly, I was moved by the sensuality of the curves of the instrument, the sound coming from it, the way the guy playing it would alternately beat the thing and then caress it. It was totally alive when it was being played and when it was resting in it's cradle. The defining feature of the cello being the giant "F" holes where the sound emanates. It could be loud, it could be tender, it could rock and make an angry noise or lull you to sleep. Alone it was incapable of doing anything, but with the touch of a hand, it was music...absolutely beautiful music. 'THAT'S IT"...I looked at Mason and told him that's what I wanted..."F" holes. As anyone who plays music knows the symbol "F" represents forte, or to play it loudly. I loved life and I liked to "play it loudly" if you will allow the analogy at this point. After a week, two bloody marys from the Garage and a lot of anticipation, Mason and I walked into Aerochild tattoos in Birmingham, Alabama and gave my drawings to Kele. It was time. He laid me on his artist's chair, popped in a live Bjork DVD to mask the sound of the 'zzzzzzzzzzzz' coming from his needle and gave me one of the most memorable hours of my life. It was liberating. It felt fantastic. It tickled. It hurt some. When Kele was finished, I did a happy dance, thanked him repeatedly, ran downstairs to show Mason and then ran to the loft to show Nick and Clare!!! It was over. The taboo of the tattoo permanently inked onto MY skin. It was beautiful. It is a source of pride for me every time someone sees it. I wonder in my head if they are shocked by it because it's so different than what they usually see or if they just didn't think of me as "that type of person". I love being "that type of person". I love being married to "that type of person".

I recall this memory very vividly today because Mason got his second tattoo last night. I wanted so much to be there, but with a little one, it's not always possible to be everywhere you want to be. Mason went through much of the same process to find his art for his arm. He found it about a year ago and has waited patiently to get it. He has never wavered on what he wanted and it speaks volumes about the man he has become. I had butterflies in my stomach for him. He was giddy. He is giddy. I couldn't wait to see it on his arm. It is beautiful. I cannot wait for him to tell his story to people like I tell mine. I love it. Once I can figure out how, I'm posting a picture of his.

We have so little time on this earth that it's fun to think that in some small way we're breaking down a silly concept barrier between those with and without tats. I need a taboo tattoo t-shirt.