Last night, I got my first tattoo. I know. I know. I entered through the doors of the tattoo gallery while my phone buzzed, beeped and overloaded with text messages from friends who couldn't believe what my Facebook check-in meant, as certainly I couldn't be getting a tattoo. There were other guesses, such as the fact perhaps I was considering a piercing or even that I was accompanying my husband to get a tattoo. Anything, even the concept that I was shoved inside a van by nameless bandits and forced to get a tattoo against my will apparently seemed more believable to those closest to me than the idea that I was actually really getting a tattoo. It's not that there is anything wrong with tattoos (as long as you don't ask my mother her thoughts on the matter, that is), it's just that I am the girl who literally cannot put her own earrings in because I'm too squeamish. I am the girl who cannot have blood drawn routinely without the aid of a minimum of four nurses, the girl who cannot even tolerate that brief moment when you have to rinse your mouth and potentially spit blood at the dentist, the girl who has to be put on enough Xanax to stop a charging rhino for something as minor as a yearly gynecological exam. (Those are all true examples. I will sit here and accept the side-eye you're giving me.) When I gave birth to Ethan, through Cesarian at that, everyone who knew me had one concern: that I'd insist that baby stayed in my belly forever because he was no way, no how coming out through surgery. Yet, life happens and the doctors sliced me open and yanked out a supposedly premature 8 pound, 4 ounce bundle of sweet, screaming joy while everyone applauded my bravery and then nodded sympathetically as I handled recovery as poorly as they all assumed I would.
But last night I stood in that lobby and filled out paperwork for the appointment I'd giddily-albeit-nervously set for myself weeks upon weeks ago. The minutes felt like hours as I tried to steady my shaking hand until they called my name. When it was my turn, I nervously handed my husband the camera and sat in the chair with all of the reckless abandon I could muster. My dad didn't understand my decision -- then again, he spent the late '90's convinced Hanson were hippie-haired hellraisers in all their prepubescent MMMBop glory -- but he came with, a vacantly apprehensive look on his face as he played on his phone. One of my best friends, Nea, stayed at home with sleeping Ethan during my appointment, also rich with the disbelief that I'd ever go through with this. I had handed my amazing tattoo artist a sheet with about fifteen different examples, mostly the same bird, some with differences so minor my husband couldn't point them out: tails bent just a little too much this way, feet not exactly cute enough. Within a few minutes, my tattoo artist sketched me an example so beautiful that I couldn't believe it was really there on paper, a perfect conglomerate of things I loved about each separate bird all rolled up into one. It was perfect. It was everything I dreamed of during the moments when I first held Ethan in my arms, when the idea of this tattoo first popped into my head and just wouldn't leave. If I still want this in a year, I wrote in my paper journal that I keep in my nightstand, I will do it. One year. One year passed, my desire for the tattoo still rampant but nerves weighing it down. It was one slightly chilly evening a few weeks ago that my husband, Ethan and I took a walk around our neighborhood and I realized I'd been constantly giving into fear for the duration of my life. My heart hurt with un-quenched want for this tattoo and so the appointment was made. And last night, the appointment had arrived.
People ask why a yellow bird? Those who have been to our home or are familiar with this blog are quick to point out that they've heard that before, homage to a yellow bird. I've written it several times on this blog and there are subtle references throughout Ethan's nursery. I have grown up on the music of Bright Eyes (this very blog's title should be apparent enough, as it hails from a Bright Eyes song) and have always found a way for those lyrics to seep inside my soul and speak to me. There was one in particular that pushed it's way into my heart like wildfire, exploding into my very soul both the moment I realized I was pregnant with Ethan and the moment he was placed in my arms that first time:
And then there he was.
Worth the wanting. Worth the hurting. Worth the pain of recovery. Much like the tattoo.
There's comfort in knowing that Ethan will always be with me, always. A part of him and a part of me. My world truly began the day that he took his first breaths, a screaming sound that sounded so beautiful in contrast to the warnings I had received about what could have happened given the fact he was four weeks early. No matter how stressful a day has been or how filthy my floors are or how large the laundry pile is or how many times I've had to say things like please stop putting your face in the cat's drinking fountain, there aren't nights where I don't step back and try to wrap my mind around the fact that this is it, this is my life. One I never thought could be possible...and then came my yellow bird, that steamy June evening almost two years ago, screaming his way into this world and truly beginning mine.