Sunday, July 8, 2012

Steady as she goes

I continue to think about the idea of investment, of directing thought and energy into relationships, but also about how the act of investment in various ideas and values colors everything I do. When I invest in the people, ideas and values that matter, my life is enriched. When I invest in the people who could give a rat's ass about our relationship, when I invest in ideas and values that mean little to me, I am impoverished. It's interesting to think about.

One thing that came to me yesterday as I sat around inside virtually all day long (code red air, temps around 105 F. - it was a toxic stew outside) was that instead of detesting my new tattoo, it would behoove me to invest some time/energy into accepting and perhaps eventually even appreciating what will now be a part of my body/mind for the rest of my life. The ex friend who now avoids me like the plague echoes the part of me who would cross the street to get away from my own tattoo. It came to me that this kind of disinvestment in the tattoo will not benefit me in any way. I can at least be civil, hey?

I'm starting simple: what do I like about the tattoo? Well, I like the word Shalom. I surely do. I like the way it looks in modern Hebrew; it's kind of Star Trekish, like a sigil.

The way it healed makes it look like a very old tattoo. I've decided I like that. I've decided I prefer it slightly fuzzy and mottled, that if it were crisp and bright and brand new looking, I wouldn't like it as much. It's an old idea expressed in modern Hebrew. It's new and old which means to me it travels across time. I like that. Hence I cancelled my second appointment with Fernando. When he responded to my text, I could tell he was laughing, something he does a lot. He encouraged me to let him "hit it up" at some point, but I'm not clear I'll ever do so. I like it that it's kind of homely.

What else do I like about it?

The mark on my arm will forever remind me of walking through the main exhibit at the Holocaust Museum. It will forever remind me (as if I needed to be reminded) of my deep love and personal investment in my relationship with the great teacher who invited me to journey with her through the collection. That moment when we stood for a few seconds in the cattle car, tightly holding hands, will come back to me every time I notice the tattoo. That's powerful and good. Yes, I'm Jewish and yes my parents taught us about the Holocaust from the time we were small children, but above and beyond that I have a very intimate relationship with that terrible firestorm, also to my ancestors who were killed in the volkswagons before the shtetl was bulldozed. The Holocaust feels personal to me in a way that it doesn't to my siblings, for instance. I don't know why, but it's true.

Though to be perfectly honest I am not yet invested in my tattoo, I've made a start, thank goodness. I think it's going to be more like putting $20 in a savings account every week than buying a lottery ticket and suddenly winning millions (which I believe is what I unconsciously hoped for). Investment in my tattoo will require discipline, attention, compassion and patience. Little by little, as my ex housemate Manuel would say.

OK. That's ok. The mark is here, it's queer (as in odd), and it's time to go beyond getting used to it. I must learn to love the tattoo. I'm in the process of becoming invested in it now which is so much better than where I was last week, hating it, covering it with concealer, feeling embarrassed.

May my heart and mind open to the dramatic gesture I underwent of my own free will after much careful thought. May it be so! May my investment in this mark overcome the discomforts of regret. May it be so.

And as long as I'm praying here, may the rains come to Washington DC, may the heat subside at least for awhile. May it be so!



ellen abbott said...

You suffered a little buyer's remorse is all. If I may be so crass as to compare it to buying my sofa...I loved it in the store but when we got it home it was a completely different color and looked different in my living room than the show room. ugh. unhappy. but then after having it around I realized how comfortable it was and now I love it. of course, a sofa isn't a permanent part of me the way your tattoo is a part of you so that's where the analogy ends. but I think because you put so much thought into it that it can't have been a mistake.

Reya Mellicker said...

That isn't crass!

Vivian said...

i would love to see a picture of your tattoo. i am too chicken to ever go through the process.

Reya Mellicker said...

Vivian its way too personal to post on the network.

Here's a link to the image I gave to Fernando.|48;d|x8KonTMllGLJGM:

Reya Mellicker said...

I don't blame you, though, for being curious.

Steve Reed said...

I think it's natural to have some pangs of regret or fear when you've taken such a big step, marking your body in a permanent way. But as a fellow tattoo owner, let me assure you that eventually it will seem very much a part of you, and you won't notice it any more than you notice your own ears or toenails. I still think it's a beautiful tattoo, from the image I briefly saw.

(I'm not an expert, but I think all tattoos appear a bit fuzzy at the edges when examined closely. Mine is certainly a bit on the fuzzy side.)

Reya Mellicker said...

Steve you are so healthy minded, so balanced. Thank you!!