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.