There’s really nothing like your sister finding old pictures of you that make you either laugh or cry…. sometimes both. I can’t get over my clothes, my earrings, my lack of punk hair, earrings that make me look 40 when I am 17 or 18 in this photo. You can tell by the “mall bangs” I am trying to pull off that have fallen in the Houston heat. My dad sent me some more, but since this is the only one that’s just me, I decided to leave their embarrassments to them. The one that’s the most fun is Meag wearing a sweatshirt I still wish I could steal… red with the “Roots” logo that they probably don’t make anymore, but could probably find on E-bay if I was industrious enough… but I’m not. I’m happy with the clothes I have, which are few and thus, easy to manage.
The clothes in this picture are probably me on my way to church, because St. Martin’s was and is very formal. I am sure this is also some kind of interview outfit, but I do not remember for which job. I hadn’t started my career at UH yet, and I doubt this is what I wore to Chili’s…. always a Chilihead at heart. Hand over the fries and no one gets hurt.
It was Meag, in the end, that convinced me to go punk. She looked good in it, so why wouldn’t I? Even in my late 30’s, it keeps me young. People don’t look at me and see 39. Mostly they see hipster chic, for which I am grateful. Preppy with punk edge is my jam…. but never this preppy ever again if I can help it. I ride the line between having my girly moments and rejecting them outright…. although I have noticed that kids’ clothes wear faster than adult, which is disheartening because I am buying the top of the line… “Tommy H,” as Meag would say. Nautica. Ralph Lauren. Calvin Klein. I am crispy to a fault, including my nerdy “Ira Glasses.” Where the punk comes in is Chucks and Docs for every occasion, as well as ball enclosures for my regular earring holes as well as my cartilage. I could also probably pull off an eyebrow ring because my eyebrows running unchecked are enormous (as you can see from this pic), but at the same time, I like having a job. It’s the same with neck tattoos. I could probably do something amazingly pretty that would make employers (and my mother) roll over and die. For instance, I think Kat von D is one of the sexiest women on the planet, but I can’t pull that off. I don’t think anyone else can. But it looks good on her.
The only tattoo I have had drawn up but haven’t actually had inked yet is a dragon burning the ever-living fuck out of my dragonfly. The dragonfly stays… it can’t not. It reminds me of a different time in my life… but it stands for something different, so it has to change and not die. I want to change it so that it is burning and slowly turning to ash, because that point in my life is fixed in the timeline of my grown and development as a human being. The drawing has stayed with me for years, and there’s no reason to change tracks now. The original tattoo was just a memory, marking a significant time in my life, as will this be, too.
So much has changed since then, but again, it is a fixed point in time… a memory that I want to keep. The only problem is that it will be on my back, so trying to look at it will involve a series of mirrors. But I can’t change where it is and will be. It’s one of the reasons I have tattoos on my left forearm and right wrist. I realized that all the tattoos I was getting were ones that were impossible for me to enjoy, as well. The drawing as it stands does not have a little of the dragon’s tail looping up onto my shoulder, but perhaps it needs to in order for me to have a chance to get strength from it, rather than the few times a year I can actually see the others. I just know they’re there, rather than actually getting to check and make sure. 😛
The ink on my dragonfly tattoo is so faded that if it can’t be saved, I have other ideas as to what should go in that spot, but I’m not ready to let go of what it might be. I just know that the dragonfly tattoo has run its course, shattering the illusion that it is sacred and truly meaning to me. But I don’t think it will be a problem. I think it will be one of the most cathartic and healing experiences of my life, and that’s what tattoos are all about- marking time and creating conversation pieces in one breath. A dragon is meaningful to me because its fire allowed me to return to the Virgo that I am, able to relax with deep breath into soil that had been enriched in ash. Perhaps a phoenix would be more appropriate, but I do not want everyone and their dog to ask me where I got an AMAZING Harry Potter tattoo…. just like my friend Jac, who upon passing the bar, got the scales of justice tattooed on her ankle and everyone thought she was a Libra.
Not that there’s anything wrong with a Harry Potter tattoo, mind you. I’d just rather have, no lie, SpongeBob SquarePants if I was ever dumb enough to get a cartoon inked on my body. Perhaps that’s being too harsh, because plenty of cartoon characters speak to people, but I’d rather have pictures of them. Maybe one day I will write The Gospel According to SpongeBob SquarePants, because his everlasting positivity and deep friendship speak volumes about Christ’s message…. sometimes better than I do…. a lot of times, actually.
The things I am willing to ink on my body are much closer to The Illustrated Man, someone who marks his body with the stories of his past, hoping to never forget. There are again, fixed points in time that cannot be changed for me, and it is those fixed points that I’d like to never be given the chance to forget. Even broken relationships aren’t let go from their meaning, which is why the dragonfly will always be there, but it has to look different, has to reflect the next fixed point in time that is even more meaningful than the day I got the dragonfly tattoo in the first place. The only reason I haven’t changed it yet is that I want to be debt-free before I start socking away money for it, and I am SO CLOSE I can taste it. So perhaps in the next few months/weeks/years. Priorities matter.
This is because in order to do what I really want to do instead of half-assing it, it won’t be cheap. Cheap tattoos are the worst thing you can do to yourself, because it’s like seeing what it could have represented, and misses the mark so poorly that you need to head immediately to one of those clinics where they can take it back off. Thank God those exist.
I’ve thought a few times about getting my Celtic knot removed, only because it matches Dana, and then I realized she was also a fixed point in time that I never wanted to forget… and it’s not like it says “Dana” on it. I’m Irish. It just fits no matter what, and she will be precious to me until I take my last breath, and none of our time together was wasted. To look at it that way is bitter and unbecoming of the depth and breadth of my feelings for her.
In the end, our relationship had run its course, but that doesn’t mean that the last decade of my life didn’t mean the world to me as it was happening. I just realized that I was not comfortable with the amount of partying we were doing to avoid pondering our real problems…. issues that I am sure could have been resolved had we put in the shoe leather, and I kick myself every day for not seeing that fact. It is devastating that I could not make her see that I loved her as much as I did, could not convince her that I would never be on my way out the door, it seemed that way to her and I will not take her feelings away from her, because they matter just as much as mine.
On the flip side, I feel like I was running toward my destiny in DC, and I wouldn’t take that away from myself, either. I never would have left had I thought there was something between us, but I knew within myself that it was over. Time had run out to try and solve anything, and she made that perfectly clear. Knowing that allowed me to “get the hell out of Dodge” without ever feeling bad about it. She robbed me of any regret with her words. She made a choice as to who she wanted in her community, and I made a choice as to who I wanted in mine. Prianka and Elena folded me into their family from the first day I arrived, screeching like a howler monkey the first time I saw her face. I got to see my college best friend, Giles, and have watched him grow into the husband and father I always knew he would be.
Plus, Houston to DC is an easy trip, and I see a lot of my family as opposed to how often they came to Portland because it was so obscurely out of the way… although it’s interesting that now Lindsay goes there all the time…. but she comes here a lot, too, so I’m not too bitter. 😛
I don’t regret leaving PDX for a second, because all my friends still talk to me via social media, and one of the people closest to me from that time in my life is now in school in New York City, a mere four hours from here… and my 7th-8th grade boyfriend lives in “The Dirty Jerz,” which is even closer. Being close enough to road trip up into New York and New England means a lot to me, as well as being able to take off for Montreal, Ottawa, and “Toronno.” It was the right move at the right time, having nothing tying me to Houston anymore except family that’s willing to travel here just as easily as I could make it down there.
And if it isn’t wrong to think of Dana as family given the long history of being best friends for almost four years before we got married, perhaps one day, when all our pain has passed, I’ll get to show her around “my DC,” too. I don’t hope for much, but I do hope for that. I don’t think we could ever get back together- too much negative history between us to keep us from lapsing back into old and painful patterns- but that doesn’t mean I don’t treasure her for all she’s worth, and regret that I had serious failings in showing it to her.
Most people have chided me for moving here to see what would happen between Argo and me, but that’s not true. I moved here so that the tie between Dana and me would never be completely severed unless we both wanted it that way. I tried to put some dirt back into the hole I’d dug with Argo, but as I have said before, I pictured an “on the ground” meeting as easily as I pictured getting to know the president as a close, personal friend. Those two things were equally impossible in my mind, and have stayed that way. The hole was too deep, the dirt “a little too little too late” (my words, not hers, but still extraordinarily true). But if that had been the focus of my move, I wouldn’t have found a community that I adore and vice versa.
My blog lags behind my real life as I process the past, and that’s all it is. I am not working toward reconciliation with Dana or Argo, just trying to understand the gargantuan mistakes I made and how to affect change in moving forward to leave them behind, because how they see me takes my breath away in ways that ignite flight or flight (or freeze, take your pick), and rip apart the happiness I have found here because I am too focused on how to fix things instead of how to overcome them.
I am aware that I have huge flaws, and the ability to create negativity, placing it where it never should have been. If there’s any hope in this garbage dump of a situation, it may not be them reminiscing of happier times and wanting to reach out…. but it MUST be learning the lessons from the situation I helped create, trying to make a better me for the new friends that come along.
I have to forget about the former, and create drive for the latter. That way, if there is reconciliation down the line, it will be a complete surprise, and not something for which I was pining and just didn’t get. There cannot be disappointment where hope does not exist.
There can only be hope in the redemption of the self.