Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Mistakes were made


Just the other day I was boasting about how easy it was, having the word shalom engraved on my arm.

Oops. Spoke too soon.

Where do I start?

The healing process went smoothly except the ointment I used to protect my arm in the first days afterwards pulled large swaths of the ink out of my skin. I thought that was normal - what did I know? Once the tattoo was revealed from under the skin that peeled off, I was aghast to see how horrible it looks. It is mottled, blotchy and uneven, except for a tiny part of one of the letters. The white ink is gone completely, the black ink fuzzed and bled out into my skin and the cheerful blue turned dark and menacing during the healing process. My arm did not want the engraving. As it turns out, neither did I.

This total disaster of a tattoo is not like a bad haircut that will grow out. This is now part of me whether I like it or not. I assure you, I do not like it.

My situation, unfortunately, is not unusual. Most tattoo artists, including Fernando, will do touch ups free of charge for tattoos that heal inconsistently. I've already spoken with him, arranged a time to go see him again. He cheerfully informed me that it's going to hurt this time as my skin will be tender.

Great.

Even if it looked perfect, I would be struggling with this grand gesture that seemed so right but turned out to be so wrong. The truth is, I'm really NOT one of them - the tattoo people I mean. No wonder I got into that strange man's car.

A trip to the Origins counter at Macy's helped. The saleswoman knew exactly what sort of concealer I was looking for. She said she helps the tattoo remorseful all the time. I am not alone! The concealer doesn't completely hide the ink, but it makes it look faded, less visible. I'm grateful for that.

The luminous Mrs. Lipp suggested that perhaps engraving the word shalom on my arm might require a greater level of integration than if I had chosen, say, a butterfly or Hello Kitty. I get her point. It's a big concept to take on. But I would never have chosen something decorative.

My hope is that once Fernando repairs the damage it will look a little better than it does now. He told me he's going to give me a different kind of ointment that should work better than what he suggested for round one.

I would have it removed, but the process is expensive and extremely painful, hence the second appointment with Fernando and the large tube of concealer.

I was so sure it was the right thing to do. I thought about it for a very long time. The timing of receiving it, followed by the Holocaust Museum the very next day, made me confident I was doing the right thing.

I wonder what other decisions I've made/will make that are dead off? It's rather scary to contemplate. Good lord.

Happy fourth to my fellow citizens of the U.S. Happy Wednesday to all. Shalom.

13 comments:

Angela said...

while you spoke of getting that tattoo, I could not write to you. I would have screamed at you to reconsider it before you took that step. But I kept quiet because you don`t mingle with others` decisions. Would you have listened?
To me tattoos have that memory in them of who got them during the war - on both sides. I know that young people who decorate themselves nowadays don`t think of that, but to you and me a tattoo is not just decoration. I know my body would have rejected it too.
But you will change what you can, and the rest will be a scar which you will cherish.

Angela said...

while you spoke of getting that tattoo, I could not write to you. I would have screamed at you to reconsider it before you took that step. But I kept quiet because you don`t mingle with others` decisions. Would you have listened?
To me tattoos have that memory in them of who got them during the war - on both sides. I know that young people who decorate themselves nowadays don`t think of that, but to you and me a tattoo is not just decoration. I know my body would have rejected it too.
But you will change what you can, and the rest will be a scar which you will cherish.

Angela said...

I`m not doing that on purpose, always sending each comment twice. I swear!

ellen abbott said...

wow. Reya. I'm trying to think of something else to say but all that comes out is...wow.

Reya Mellicker said...

Wow kind of says it all.

No Angela I would not have listened. It felt so right.

It feels like a scar left over from the war, yes. It is connected to my relationship to the Holocaust, definitely. Perhaps I will come to cherish it - who knows?

I'm not despondent, I should say. It's ironic, takes me down a peg or two, but I'm not freaking out. I'm asking Grandfather Eagle what I'm supposed to learn from the experience, as I've been working so hard to be proud and confident. Who knows?

Washington Cube said...

I had a professor in college who was tattooed from being in a concentration camp in Poland as a child. I can still see that mark on him.

I know you went into this process ritualistically--lots of profound and spiritual thought. I just hope you get what you want and need from this experience? Yes?

I still believe it is such a deep and personal choice, that it really isn't right to say anything. Out here, taking in your reporting.

Pam said...

I too, find it hard to comment on something that is/was such a deep and personal choice, so am acknowledging your feelings and respecting the issues you have around this...am always very interested in your thoughts, actions and reactions.

Linda Sue said...

Well, I thought it was utterly cool and the very thing to do especially having braved the museum; I do not think it is any thing more than after care gone bad.Sorry for the pain part of it, take something before you have it repaired...and I still think it is awesome! By the time this tattoo has settled it will have earned itself!

Reya Mellicker said...

Wise words, y'all. Thank you!

Elizabeth said...

Dearest Reya,
Hugs.
What can I say? Sometimes the body just knows
stuff......

Rose from Oz is Back! said...

Bummer, a nice straight-forward healing would have been nice :(
Prayers that round two will have a good outcome Reya.

tut-tut said...

The top photo looks like an oar about to be tipped into the water; I was surprised to see it was a street lamp.

I'm not sure what to think about tattoos (see Mouse's series of amazing ones on her blog, e.g.), except to say, they're not for me.

Jo said...

I believe that anything we do with such reverence, respect, and intent will ultimately be received the same way. Hang in there, Reya. This experience of your heart, mind, and soul will balance out eventually.