In two weeks I will get my first tattoo. Tattooing is an art form I loved for a really long time:- before it was cool; before it became a right of passage for the preppy boys to show that they were “down” or for the wanna be Gangster Rappers to use as a means of easy street cred. I fell in love with tattoos in my primary school library, hidden in a stack of old dusty donated National Geographic Magazines which were many years past due. Thus, the seed was planted. I would go to Japan and get my first tattoo done by a master Horishi. Looking back I am almost certain the article would have been about crime in general or maybe the Yakuza in specific. However, the only thing I understood was the beauty of turning bare flesh into a live canvas. I remembered also from the article, one man who loved his body armor so much he stated in his last will and testament that on his death his skin should be removed bequeathed to someone I don’t remember who, I thought,
“You can do that!”
At the time I thought that was the coolest thing in the world.
Over the years the idea never left me, and it became my secret promise to myself. I would go to Japan I would have my first tattoo, it would be massive and it would cover my entire back. I would voraciously consume everything on Horimono and developed this romanticiszed life of living there until my back was finished. I would teach English to babies or something like that. Live in a small apartment with a high-tech toilet and a lowtech bed. I would get homesick once in a while and every year atleast once I would send home a big barrel for the people I care about. Most days I would be happy others I would be sad or confused and about three years I would move to some other country of interest and do it all over again. In the twilight of my time on earth I would be like an old drunken sailor. My tattoos would tell stories of what I did, believed, seen and maybe even who I loved.
Reality check - Many birthdays came and went, and dreams/aspirations lose their shine. They became dusty ghosts that haunt the periphery of a card punching at ten past the hour to get a half an hour of overtime pay existence. The air you breath tastes different because it is the air of conformity that suffocates dreams and poisons the spirit of adventure. Many plans are tired and fail and fail and fail miserably. To do and do and do things differently only to feel the distinct sting of disappointment takes a toll on the psyche and you have to fight yourself in order not to be completely overcome by your insecurities.
I have never been to Brazil for Carnival, never bought shoes in italy. I never seen snow much less been snow boarding. I never drank mojitos at Hemingways’ bar nor visited Goya’s house. But the biggest and most painfully disappointing thing of all is I never gotten tattooed in Japan.
I know I’m not old or dead nor planning to die anytime in the near future. But life has a way of slapping you in the face with one disappointing event that makes another crystal clear. And there is nothing like the feeling when you realize the life in your hand and the life you live have significantly diverged and you have come to the point where you are out of ideas and fighting for energy to perform this seemingly Herculean task of putting your jolly mess of a Humpty Dumpty life together again.