I got my first tattoo when I was sixteen. My boyfriend was skateboarding professionally and traded a local tattoo artist some Zero decks and Independent trucks in return for my first tattoo-- it was, much like every sixteen-year-old beach-blonde's first tattoo: my astrology sign, a roman numeral II for Gemini with a little butterfly on the side.
My second tattoo was much the same, in some dude's apartment in high school-- this time, Japanese symbols for Inspiration on my ankle. Cliche yet meaningful to me at the time and therefore meaningful still, although I'm not sure it actually says "Inspiration"... but that is beside the point.
I have a crown on my lower stomach that I got after stumbling into Sunset Tattoo in the mood for something, um, regal? I have a grape vine up my foot (San Francisco) three different stars around my wrist, each accumulated in a different city (London, San Francisco, Los Angeles) divided by the word: evolve (as in the stars are evolving) an Anais Nin quote around my waist (East Village, NYC) and a daisy whose petals fall down the outside of my thigh. And now this on my left forearm:
This was the only tattoo that wasn't spontaneous: the words I have made my modus operandi: Tell the Story Until it Comes true. I told myself if and when I ever sold a book I would tattoo these words to my arm, like a permanent cheat-sheet to life, to remind me that there is nothing more powerful than a story, than believing in the themes and the characters and the possibilities of happy endings or at the very least, learned ones. That if I wrote enough manuscripts (four, total) eventually one would be published.
These words have appeared in some context in everything I have ever written, both fiction and non and I stand by the idea that through narrating our lives and adventures we will discover our own truths. That by believing in our stories we can write and then re-write our lives accordingly.
I don't believe in destiny but I believe in fables. The Anais Nin quote around my waist was taken from one of my favorite books, House of Incest, which says:
"What is allotted me to say? Only the truth disguised in a fairytale..."
That is what writers do. We disguise the truth in stories and fairy tales. We tell stories in hope they come true, for our characters and for ourselves. (Is there even a difference?)
We tattoo our stories on the world or the walls or pages of books and/or websites, brushing up against the truths of others with our skin or the very least, the glow of white beneath our type face.
I have always loved tattoos, for a very simple reason: they become a skin you cannot shed. I remember where I was in my life for every tattoo on my body. I remember what I was wearing, feeling, and why I walked through the door buzzing from the sound of the needle. The souvenirs of moments both significant and not become stories in themselves.
And to me that is what matters most.