– the number of times i rewrote the poem i wanted tattooed on my left wrist
– the number of times i have myself inked to date
– the number of times i scraped my tattooed wrist on objects
– the number of times i have applied petroleum jelly on it
And I am not about to stop counting.
When I had my first tattoo, it was june 11 or june 12 of 2007. Her name is Luna, my fallen angel.
My second — I had it 4th quarter of 2009 as Jazz’s gift to me. Her name is clementine, my suicidal dreamer. She’s dead, but like the characters in Unbearable Lightness of Being, she breathes repetition.
The third one was inked on me on June 11, 2011. It is a poem by Margaret Atwood, a poem that lives out metaphor, form, brevity, power, voice. And pain.
When I was being tattooed, I was on the phone scheduling a photo shoot for the first four minutes. The rest of the 10 minutes flew by with me capturing it on video. In the video, I could be heard singing along with Tegan and Sara and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Jazz’s and Mako’s voices could be heard marveling at how I welcomed pain. Ani was my official DJ. She would have her turn next. She would clutch Jazz’s hand, and I would be the videographer. I would needle the artist to make sure the letter “i” remains small. I would comfort Ani, and she would remain in her seat, fidgety and noisy, holding on to Crazy Courage’s folds of her dress. She would go home and comment that I was a good videographer. She would be told by Jazz to go for that item in her bucket list that is infamous and crazy and nerve-wracking and blood-pumping. She would most probably do it.
It was a road trip to Tagaytay. Ani had Cynthia Ayala’s words tattooed on her left wrist — knowing there is only now. Mako had an old one covered. Death of Endless is her piece. It was Death on several levels for her. The shading part was sheer torture, and her skin bruised up because of it. Her pores bloomed in anger, but she plowed through it. The day after, Death was swollen but beguiling as ever.
I notice that I get inked every two years. What will happen in 2013 then? The poet’s heart beats more questions than answers so I wouldn’t know. What I do know is how I welcome pain like a dear, dear friend. I just let her be, and being of wanderlust descent, she would step out and would take long walks. Every time she knocks on my door, I know she’s chosen me again. That is how surrender is — you know what’s in store, and you open your heart for more.