It’s time… to get a tattoo

2023 is the year I get a tattoo.

I’ve waited a long time to get one, for good reason. When I was growing up, even piercing your ears was a huge step. I had to wait until I was 18 and had earned some money of my own before I could pay someone to apply a stud gun to my ears.

Getting a tattoo was just not on anyone’s radar (in my sheltered corner of the world, anyway). And it stayed off my radar until some years ago, when I read a Washington Post article about “grandparents and retirees” getting tattoos. At that point I was neither of those things, but a quote resonated: “If you’ve already got saggy skin, you don’t have to worry about the tattoo sagging.”

That idea has stayed with me. Looking again at the Washington Post story now, I also like this:

People say, ‘Well, what happens when you get old and fat?’ ” said Dorrie Bright, a 52-year-old physics teacher from Baltimore who plans to get a “sleeve” composed of turn-of-the-century botanical illustrations covering her entire arm. “Well, I’ll be old and fat with a pretty thing on my arm.”

This year, three things have come together. One is that every young or youngish person I know has one, or many, tattoos. I am surrounded by them. Two is that I have reached the age where I truly don’t care what people think any more. Those two things mean that any lingering old ideas about tattoos and “niceness” are well and truly gone.

Third, I now know what I want that tattoo to say.

It’s a Pratchett thing

In a post in 2021, I shared my favourite Terry Pratchett quote, from young witch Tiffany Aching, in The Wee Free Men, facing the end of the world and talking to a toad in the absence of her mentor, Miss Tick:

“You’d better tell me what you know, toad,” said Tiffany. “Miss Tick isn’t here. I am.”
“Another world is colliding with this one,” said the toad. “There. Happy now? That’s what Miss Tick thinks. But it’s happening faster than she expected. All the monsters are coming back.”
“There’s no one to stop them.”
There was silence for a moment.
“There’s me,” said Tiffany.

My heart always lifts (and sinks) when I read those two words in the last line of the quote. They mean so much.

When things go wrong, only one person can fix it. No running away, no blaming someone else (even if it’s not my fault).

When something needs to be done, or a person needs to be helped, or responsibility needs to be taken – I’m it.

That’s the thing: There’s me.

But lately, I’ve come to realise there are other ways those two words resonate. When I look at other people’s live and feel envious, there’s still only me. Whether I am in a home office in the heat, or sitting on a beach sipping cocktails, all I have is myself. That’s all there is.

And because of that I have to care for myself – which is a notable theme of my plan for 2023.

So – my tattoo will feature a moon, a cat and the words: “There’s me”.

And because of that intention to care for myself, I’ve asked for help: family members are going to club together and help me pay for the tattoo. After all, there’s them too.

Main picture: Mollyroselee, Pixabay

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