The story of a tattoo

Last month someone asked me about the meaning behind my tattoo.  And when he asked, it threw me off.  I realized the only other person who’s ever asked about the heart on my wrist was my mother.

It’s funny because when I was choosing exactly what would be permanently inked into my skin, I had the meaning down to a nice little explanation.  Kind of like an “elevator pitch” for a business. I also had the long version I could offer up if someone asked for more.  I assumed my tattoo artist would ask me about it while the needle buzzed into my skin.  (I’d probably just watched too many episodes of LA Ink to set that expectation). That didn’t happen.

I was prepared to tell everyone who saw the tattoo what it meant and why it was there.

But no one asked.

No one really even commented on it.

On the rare occasion someone talked about it, they’d say “I didn’t know you had a tattoo.” or “Cool. When did you get that?”  or usually just “Cool tat.” or “I love your tat.” (Alright, I don’t think anyone actually called it a tat. It was always tattoo. I don’t even say tat.)

The more I thought about this, the more I realized I’ve never asked anyone else about their tattoo – before or after I got mine.

I wonder why this is.

Why don’t we ask about something that obviously has a deep and special meaning.  That’s why we get them.  I mean, even if it was a “mistake” it’s still a good story, right?  I want to hear the stories behind the tattoos. (Which is probably why I watched too much LA Ink)

Anyway….

Want to hear about my tattoo? I’ll tell you about mine, you tell me about yours.

wrist tattoo heart

I’ve wanted a tattoo since I got married.  I never really wanted one as a teenager.  But every summer since I’ve been married, I’d get this “itch” to have a tattoo.  I thought for the longest time it would be a butterfly on my foot.  I’m SO glad I waited.

When my 30th birthday was approaching I decided that was the year I’d take the plunge.  I knew I wanted something small-ish.  I knew I wanted to be able to see it daily.  I figured the wrist would be perfect.  I was still in my dark days and trying to live with more joy, so I planned on having “JOY” tattooed in some scripty font.  But then I drew  a little heart on my right wrist.  A TEENY heart. It was perfect.

It served as a reminder for whatever I needed that day.  To live with joy, to speak gently to my girls, to speak Nick’s love language, to show compassion…. In a way, it was like a ribbon on the finger for matters of the heart and mind.

So the day I turned 30, I stepped into a little suburban tattoo parlor.  $50 and 20 minutes later I had a permanent heart on my wrist.

At first I freaked out.  It was HUGE compared to the teeny heart I’d been drawing on myself.  What if I didn’t like it forever?  What was I thinking?  Maybe I should’ve waited.

But the more I saw it.  The more it grew on me. And now I know it was perfect.

Nick and I joked the day I got it and he told me “Now you have a heart.” because up until that point, he was the compassionate one with the bleeding heart.  Not much moved me or brought tears to my eyes.

Little did I know that a few weeks later my heart would change.  Over the course of the year I turned 30, I found joy, compassion, and a heart for the Lord.  I get teary at everything now.  I do indeed have a heart.

So now, this little heart on my wrist is a symbol for the change that took place this past year.  It couldn’t be more perfect.

I’m actually thinking about adding some watercolor splash to my heart now that I not only have a heart, but one that’s come alive again.

So I don’t quite have the elevator pitch down for what it really means …. I guess if anyone asks, they’ll have to get the long version.

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One comment on “The story of a tattoo

  1. Dottie says:

    Rachel,
    That was a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing