Tuesday, June 25, 2013


A year ago today, my friend and I went to a studio on H Street where we each received a tattoo. I had been thinking about it for years. I could "see" the word Shalom on my arm, a healing opposite, a mirror of the numbers that were tattooed on the arms of the people in the concentration camps. I "saw" it in modern Hebrew, clean and bold. A few months before I actually got it, I began writing the word with a sharpie on my arm every morning. That was not attractive. Finally I went ahead and actually got the ink.

My expectation was that it would be painful and I would be a wimp, but once it had healed I would be happy with it. What actually came to pass was the opposite. It hardly hurt at all. There was sensation but Fernando, the artist, has a very light touch.

Almost immediately afterwards I began to struggle with my decision to do it. Oh the regret! You would not believe how sorry I was that I had made the commitment. I researched having it removed, I went to Nordstrom and got a tube of thick makeup meant to hide dark circles under the eyes and such. The saleslady knew exactly what I needed - apparently many people need to occasionally hide their tattoos, from family members sometimes, or to interview for a job, she said.

After my attempts to pretend I hadn't done it failed - I'm not going to wear makeup on my arm every day, for heaven's sake! - I began to imagine how I should have designed it. It should have been smaller, it should have been plain black, in script, decorative rather than so in-your-face. What looks good on paper is a completely different thing on skin. I still harbor these regrets by the way.

As I got used to it, my thinking turned 180 degrees. I decided I should add to it, try to make it more decorative. As it is, it looks like someone stamped my arm. It shouts S H A L O M!!! I can be so emphatic, which is I guess why it turned out like it did.

I imagined the word nestled into cherry blossoms, or roses. Both of those ideas still appeal. I also periodically imagine having a white skeleton key placed behind the word. That would be cool. Sometime I might follow through.

A friend who knows me well advises me to just leave it as it is. I've made my statement, according to her. She makes a good point.

Most of the time in the last few months, I haven't worried, fussed or focused on it. It is a part of me now. Big, emphatic, not decorative enough, incomplete ... my, my. Sounds like I'm talking about my whole self, not just the tattoo. That is kind of hilarious.

Happy tattoo anniversary to me. Onwards & upwards. Shalom.

That's the inside of my right arm, elbow at the top of the pic.


Elizabeth Wix said...

Glad you have made peace with your SHALOM!
Sending you all good wishes from too-hot and sticky NY.

ellen abbott said...

wow, I can't believe it's been a year already!

ellen abbott said...

and I thought it was all bold black. I like the blue.

Reya Mellicker said...

It's too hot and sticky here, too. Waving hello, Elizabeth.

Thanks, Ellen. Yes, I guess it could have been bolder!

Kerry said...

Finally a glimpse of this troublesome ink. Gosh, I was expecting something much worse. Anyway, how could shalom be bad, no matter how it was written?

It's there, and you might as well own it, so good for you.

Steve Reed said...

I vote with your friend. Let it be!

Funny -- I don't remember it having blue coloring. I still think it's a cool tattoo!

Reya Mellicker said...

As you said last year, Steve, you couldn't come up with a more fitting tattoo for me.

For the time being, I'm doing nothing with it.


Washington Cube said...

I know this sounds strange, but it looks different to me. Not as "raw." More you.