“A lot of my friends have tattoos; I realized that it’s not only just a part of pop culture, but a bit of a map on someone’s body, which says something about people. A part of their life, like an armor or a crest.” ~ Christian Louboutin
While tattoos might be considered controversial, they can be dated as far back as the Neolithic Period. The inky colorful designs on the skin have been attributed to everything from tribal traditions, showing dedication to the Gods, social status, and was even used to intimidate enemies. They have been discovered around the world at various archeological sites. Yet, despite a prosperous history, in todays day and age, there is a huge stigma that has been attached to tattoos. People are quick to judge solely on appearance, assuming those who have them are rough around the edges instead of delving deeper.
Tattoos tell a story. Composed drawings translated in ink over the fascia representing something in ourselves, making a statement to the world. It is Art. Art in the most permanent and public of ways, using the human body to showcase it.
Younger Sister Adulation
With a five year age gap, I grew up hero-worshipping my sister. Whatever Jacquie was interested in, so was I. She took it with good humor, folding me under her wing and letting me tag along like the annoying littler sister I most definitely was.
Boy Band hysteria hit an all time high in the nineties with girls going gaga for N*SYNC, Backstreet Boys, Hanson, and 98 Degrees. My sister was right in the mix and I, the ever adoring little sister, followed right behind her.
Her first love was Hanson. She had posters everywhere in her bedroom, scarring our ninety plus year old Grandmother who had to sleep in there when she came to visit. While Hanson had its hot second or three, 98 Degrees heated up the charts (pun intended) and ruled the nineties. They were our first, and subsequently second, and third, concerts together.
She had a huge crush on Jeff Timmons, one of the singers in the band and since I couldn’t be left out, I had a “crush” on Drew Lachey. She knew everything about them including their nicknames which we subsequently took as our own. Lachey’s nickname was Sprout, which all things considered, wasn’t horrendous. As the youngest, I had about a thousand nicknames. (some truly horrible) It was a miracle I never had any identity issues. I called her Sugar, which was Timmon’s nickname.
It was our “Thing.” No one else could call us that. Very few people even knew where it originated from. Every single card she sent would be addressed to me as Sprout and she would sign it as Sugar.
As the youngest, I was my parents’ care free wild child. I was the fashion forward, ready to take on the world, modern day Renaissance woman, so different from my siblings. I always loved tattoos and knew eventually I would get one much to my mother’s chagrin.
To me they were and are beautiful works of art. I always went back and fourth about what I wanted. I knew I wouldn’t get one just to get it, but because it had meaning to me. I researched designs, but never found any I clicked with.
When my sister was killed that all changed. I knew whatever I got tattooed on my body would be a tribute to her. I thought of a million designs at first, finally settling on one that was simple, elegant and yes, personal.
I researched tattoo studios in the city, settling on Eastside Ink in the East Village. They were a clean reputable studio that even had celebrity clients. I also loved that the emphasis wasn’t on just inking the skin, but designing art. Cesar the tattoo artist who did mine, really was just that, and artist. I felt comfortable with them.
My best friend and I had made a pack to get our tattoos together (she got the Hebrew H on her spine) and I knew there was no better person to go with then my mer-twin.
It was a hot, sunny day when we went and maybe took a half hour. Cesar was the consummate professional making me laugh and even offering quiet comfort when I got choked up as I began to see my sister’s signature come to life. I had decided on my nickname for her, “Sugar” done in her writing placed on the inside of my left wrist, Jacquie was not only left handed but it is also closest to my heart.
It was delicate, personal, and I loved it.
Sugar and Sprout
Being the Gemini I am, I knew I needed balance. A few months later I went back to Cesar at Eastside Ink and had “Sprout,” again in her handwriting, tattooed on the inside of my right wrist.
It some how felt complete.
I get asked how I could do it, how can I live with something so permanent on my skin. To ask how I can live with that is the equivalent of telling me I shouldn’t honor my sister. It is a personal decision for each individual, whether it is to keep your body a blank canvas or tattoo it with ink. It is a commitment and in a world where people are so easy to give up when the going gets tough, it isn’t a bad thing to have some permanence in a persons life. I have no regrets. For me it wouldn’t have been right if it wasn’t meaningful.
Every time I look at my wrists with our nicknames done in her loopy elegant writing, I am reminded of memories that make me smile and laugh. Of a bond that was forever tattooed in my heart and that even in death, can not be destroyed.
What do you think of tattoos? Do you have one? If not would you get one?