Sunday, October 01, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: Skin

This is my favorite part of my skin. I got this tattoo on my lower back while living in Austin and I love it! I suppose the fact that I thought about getting this very tattoo for 8 years before actually doing it makes a difference. I feel it is the perfect expression of who I am, and I love the fact that a visual expression of my personality is forever inked into my skin.

In case you can't tell, the image is of two people sitting back to back on a palm tree. The original image is etched in silver on a triangular pendant that I got when I was 16 and on a month-long bus trip through Brasil.

We were in Brasilia visiting the Templo da Legião da Boa Vontade (in English called the Temple of Peace or Temple of Goodwill), this enormous 7-sided white pyramid in the middle of the city. Suspended at the top of the pyramid is the world's largest quartz crystal weighing in at 21kg.

The thing to do at the Templo is to take off your shoes and walk along the spirals on the granite floor - one black and leading in toward the center of the temple, the other white and spiraling out. At the middle of the spirals, and directly below the crystal in the roof, is a copper disc that supposedly purifies and charges with positive energy whoever stands upon it. I did the whole spiral-walking, energy exchanging ritual at the Templo and thought it was pretty cool.

As I was walking out of the pyramid and back to our bus, an old man selling jewelry called me over to his stand. I tried to explain to him that I didn't want to buy anything, but he was very insistent. "This is for you," he said, and placed a silver pendant in my hand.

"No, no. I can't accept this. Thank you." I tried to refuse the necklace, as I was certain it was just a ploy to get my to buy something.

But the old man shook his head and said, "You don't understand. This gift is for you. I don't want any money. Please, take it. It is for you."

He was so serious when he looked at me that I couldn't bring myself to refuse his offering again. "Thank you," I said softly. I looked at the triangle pendant and tried to figure out the abstract scrawls. "What is it?" I asked the man.

"You'll see," he said, and motioned for me to go back to the bus.

Eventually I did see - two people back to back on a palm tree as if on a desert island - although many people see a different image. The most common ones are two hands pressed together in prayer, or the head of a bull.

I don't know what it is, but something about that image of the people resting on the palm trees just resonated with me. I wore that necklace for about 4 years without ever taking it off. Eventually the chain it was on broke and I began switching it out with some other necklaces (it's hard for a jewelry lover to be faithful to just one necklace!). Even thought I wear other pieces now, this silver pendant is still one of my absolute favorites and a powerful reminder of my past and who I am.

I'd show a photo of the original necklace where I got the idea for my tattoo but it's currently in Rio with Rico. The day he left Mozambique I pressed it in his palm, trying to hold back tears, as if him carrying a pocket-sized reminder of me would somehow lessen the saudades. I like the idea that Rico can look at the necklace, one of my most treasured posessions, and remember not only how the pendant hangs around my neck, and how I tend to grab onto it when I'm nervous, but how the dark ink looks on my skin.


Jerri said...

Truly wonderful response to the prompt.

Love the tattoo and love the idea that you sent the necklace on a journey of love shared.

La Fuerza Artemis said...

That's such a great story Ali!

Love the tatoo!! What size is it?


susanna said...

That IS meaningful. Such a little act and generous gesture made by a stranger in'll be remembering that moment for the rest of your life! WHO was he and WHY...

Michelle said...

What an incredible experience! I love how your story shows how it has woven its way through your life.

Kristine said...

Although I have none, I love tattoos. I enjoyed reading about your experiences behind this one! I was touched by your last remarks about giving Ricardo the pendant to hold onto while you are apart too.

Alina said...

Simply love your tattoo, and I am quite sure the necklace is just as beautiful. As for the story of how you got it, simply amazing :)

Pacian said...

Wow, what a lovely story! I wonder if the old man thought you looked like someone he once knew.

bb said...

you know i love that this is such a strong design for a tattoo but i didn't realise what it was of until your description, and that works too! there is an ambiguity that means it doesn't look like it could be easily tired of.

Great post!

(p.s. how's the poetry conversion going? ;-))

bb said...

a strong design for a tattoo but i didn't realise what it was of until your description, and that works too! there is an ambiguity that means it doesn't look like it could be easily tired of.

Great post!

(p.s. how's the poetry conversion going? ;-))

Amber said...

I love this! What a cool story of how you found your tat. For some reason it was meant for you, and that is sort of magical. I have thought for awhile about getting one, but I don't know what would be right. It would have to be something that spoke to me, like this!

*Also, I wanted to tell you how much I appreciated your comment on my scribble this week. Your honestly, and the way you are living your journey is just really touching to me.I admire you!


Ali la Loca said...

~Jerri - Thanks, I like how you put that: a journey of love shared.

~Teri - It's about 5 inches tall.

~Susanna - I would love to know the answer to those questions.

~Michelle - This necklace and the image have been so important to me. I used to worry about losing the pendant and now that it's on my skin it will never go away.

~Kristine - Would you ever get one?

~Alina - Thanks, I love it too!

~Pacian - I have no idea. I'd sure love to know what was going through his head at that moment.

~bb - That's one of the things I love most about this image, that you can't really tell what it is and that it is so abstract.

The poetry conversion is, well, going. I'm enjoying the poems created by some of my blog friends, but still am not at the point where I'd pick up a book of poetry to read in my spare time.

~Amber - That's why I have absolutely no regrets about this tattoo. As much as I love it, I doubt I'll ever get another one because I'd have to have a story just as amazing to back it up.

paris parfait said...

Such a lovely piece, Ali and a wonderful story about the necklace and the tattoo. That´s so sweet that Rico is keeping it safe for you.

Rrramone said...

Very cool. I haven't gotten the nerve to get one yet, but maybe some day. :-)