Oct 18, 2011

A Tattoo Shop---You are Here?

This is the prompt for Sunday Scribblings, a picture that simply states "You Are Here."  I had so many thoughts about where "here" could be. There are numerous places I have traveled, Jamaica, Panama, Costa Rica, and Mexico for example, but I decided to write on something closer to home. A destination many would never have a desire to visit, but for me it was the place I had wanted to see for a long time.

It was a tattoo shop. Yes, I did say tattoo shop. I had been thinking about getting a tattoo for quite a while and decided in 2010 it would be the perfect year to do it. 2010 was the year my husband and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. I can almost see the wheels turning in the reader's head. What is the connection between a wedding anniversary and a tattoo? My husband, Charlie, and I wanted to have a year long celebration of our anniversary. We wanted to spend the year doing things we had never done before. I suppose you could call it an anniversary bucket list. My first item on the list was to get a tattoo.

Charlie wasn't really thrilled with the idea; but he said if I was going to do it, he was going with me. I have to admit I felt a bit odd going into the shop for the first time. The walls were lined with tattoo designs and there was a case full of all kinds of baubles for body piercing. 

A nice young man came from behind the counter and asked if he could help us. I told him what I wanted, but I needed the design drawn. I wanted a peace sign with a butterfly resting on it. I am a child of the sixties and peace signs became very important to me. I also love butterflies. I had a car accident in 2006 which nearly took my life and from that experience and my injuries I began the metamorphosis into a different person. The butterfly is a sign of change and survival to me. 

Actually it was Charlie who came up with the design after some discussion with the tattoo artist. Then it was the challenge of looking through all the butterflies to find the one I wanted. Once I made a decision, the artist sat down to make the drawing for my tattoo. After it was completed he made the stencil to transfer to my skin.

Oh and before I could get the tattoo I had to sign a form stating I wasn't under the influence of drugs or alcohol. I had to be of sound mind to give permission to have my body tattooed. ( I can hear the derisive snorts now from some of my readers.)

There was a sign hanging above the counter that made it clear getting a tattoo would hurt. I shall paraphrase it  to keep my pg rating. It said, "Hell yeah it hurts!" I thought I had some idea of what it would be like, but I was wrong. It hurt worse. The kind young man explained to me that the tattoo only went down to the third layer of skin. It was just a simple procedure to apply ink by scraping through two layers of skin. Again to keep my pg rating there was gritting of my teeth and numerous exclamations of the word "ouch."

I am so happy I have the tattoo. It isn't just artwork on my arm, but a badge of survival. I look at it and seek to become more of a person of peace and to embrace the changes that have come and will come in me. (I also have another tattoo. Yes I said another tattoo. That will perhaps be a story to tell at another time.)

The design in place on my skin.
Working on the outline
Filling in the design
This was one of the times I said "ouch"
I am really doing this?
It is finished
Peace and Butterflies

You Are Here?

You are here,
but just where
is here?
Is it that
that has taken
hours to reach
or that state
of discontent
you wish to escape?

Is it that exclamation
of surprise that
elicits hugs and smiles
or the disdain
of unwanted presence?

Is it the commitment
to be present in
body, mind and spirit,
or an inquiry
as to whether
you have checked out?

You are here,
but just where
is here?
Will you know
when you get there?

©Susie Clevenger 2011



  1. A fascinating bit of bio and a poem to be proud of. Excellent post.

  2. Ah Susie, looks like you're there! :)

  3. Remember the conversation we had not to long ago ..you have convinced me with this beautiful story and poem...that I AM NOT DOING THIS! I am to much of a coward. I truly admire your courage and as usual love the write.

  4. Great poem. Good story too! I got my first tattoo 20 years ago. It is a memorial for my oldest daughter that was killed in an auto accident. I've been wanting another one and this Winter it just might happen.
    As far as being "here", These days, I am always here. Here is where I am, 'there' is somewhere else. That may sound trite, but in my past, I didn't always think this way. I wasted too much time thinking about what people would think or what they might be saying. I decided, through years of healing from many forms, that "It is none of my business what anyone thinks of me" and "I don't care what people are saying, as long as they're saying something." When I pass and people that knew me hear about it, I want them to say, "Too bad, he was a nice guy."
    Thanks for sharing your story here, and thanks for the forum to tell you some of mine.


  5. I love your tatoo and your poem!!!!!!!