From Tracie: Heart Tattoos

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Heart Tattoos

Yesterday one of my friends got a super cute tattoo, and posted pictures on Facebook this morning. I added it to my mental list of tattoos. (I could probably hashtag that list #TattooGoals.) I love tattoos. I love it when people share their tattoo pictures, and even more when they share the stories behind them.

This one spoke to me because it was about knitting. I am a knitter.

I mean, I can knit. I taught myself how to knit. I really loved it. Then I hit a knitting wall, both in ability and financially (yarn is expensive, y'all, if you want to buy the good stuff). But I still think of myself as a knitter. I still believe that one day I will pull out those needles and create beautiful things. When I'm in the craft store, I stare at yarn and needles with hungry eyes. Here's the thing, though, I'm not a knitter right now. And I certainly wouldn't get a ball of yarn tattooed on myself right now. The timing doesn't make sense.

This story perfectly sums up why I don't have a tattoo. I think too far in the future. I put every tattoo idea to the "do I want this on my skin FOREVER?" test. It's not a bad test, really. There are a lot of people out there who have tattoos they don't love anymore. But my test is administered in such a way that nothing will ever pass.

I thought about this as I was looking at that super cute yarn tattoo today, and the caption that said something about this being tattoo #5 and now it was time to start thinking about #6. And I finally entertained the thought that maybe it doesn't matter if a tattoo is the perfect fit for every day of the rest of your life.

What if a tattoo was just a snapshot of your life right then — in that moment — the life for which you aren't promised a tomorrow? The life for which forever isn't a reality, anyway. A reminder outside of my head of who I was exactly in a moment in time. A scar, as it were, that illustrated something perfectly. Something that changed me inside, changing me on the outside, too.

These are the tattoos that exist on my heart, even if they never made it to my skin...(starting with the first time I remember thinking about a tattoo)...

When I was 11, I would have gotten a butterfly tattooed on my hand, on the back of my left hand, right by my thumb. I see it sometimes, now, when I stare at my hand really hard.

When I was 12, I was obsessed with always. Always. It was doodled on every school folder and book cover. (I used to write this word on the upper palm of my left hand — sometimes artsy, sometimes longingly, sometimes desperately — and at 12 I really did think I would make it a permanent mark when I was old enough.)

When I was 14, my friends and I spent months writing "BORN AGAIN" on our inner arms with permanent markers. Thick, dark lines. BORN on my right arm. AGAIN on my left. We would refresh them as they faded. It was the closest thing to permanent in a year where nothing was the same.

That summer, I would have tattooed green stars. Dainty, but strong. And a pair of converse with an orange ribbon.

When I was 15, I would have tattooed fire. Consuming fire and Hebrew words.

When I was 16, it would have been all about snippets. Bible verses. Song lyrics. Quotes from books. I was buttoned up and covered up. No one would have seen these words, but they were beautiful and written in green, a small purple triangle surrounding every mention of God.

I also would have added the word "Beloved" to the upper palm of my right hand.

When I was 17, it would have been a fake tribal tattoo, and I fear it would have happened on my lower back. What can I say, I'm being honest with you. It was the end of the 90's, every girl was doing it, and by this time I would have thrown the careful "do I want this forever" test right out of the window.

When I was 19, I would have tattooed a wedding ring. Beautiful, scrolly, and adorned with a heart and a cross.

When I was 20, I earned a c-section scar. If that isn't a heart tattoo forcing its way out onto the skin, I don't know what is. But it wouldn't have hurt to engrave a date right over my heart to go with it.

When I was 21, I would have tattooed Survivor on my left foot. This is the path I walk. This is something that will be truly true for the rest of my life.

When I was 26, I would have gotten a knitting tattoo that would have inspired anyone who saw it to pick up a pair of needles and start purling. Okay, it might not have been THAT awesome. But it would have been pretty awesome. I am a knitter, after all.

When I was 27, I would have tattooed an entire picture around my upper left arm. A VW bus parked under a tree heavy with yellow flowers. The bus would have had the words "Yellow Joy Machine" painted on the side.

I also would have added "Love" to one of my wrists. The right one, on the top of my arm. Like a bracelet. With a small star at the end. *To Write Love On Her Arms

When I was 28, I would have tattooed "Choose Joy" written in Sarah's handwriting. It would have fit perfectly on my right foot.

When I was 29, I would have tattooed a classic cassette tape. The handwritten title would have read simply "Misty."

I also would have added the word "Hope" to my right shoulder.

When I was 30, I would have made an update to my Always tattoo. This is the year I read Harry Potter for the first time. When I reached the moment where Snape said, "Always" I held the book close to my heart, and thought, "That's my word." It was a big moment for me. I pay extra close attention to every Snape-inspired Always tattoo.

I would have also added a semicolon to the outside of my right hand, matching up with the butterfly on my left. *Project Semicolon

When I was 33 (that's this year), I would tattoo another picture, this time around my upper right arm. A periwinkle car parked in the dessert by a prickly pear cactus. The cactus pads are turning purple. Three blooms would be visible, reaching up towards the sun setting behind mountains in the background.


It's been a while since I've written here. A combination of a busy work life, a huge change in my personal life, and the darkness and light that both hold back words in different ways. 

My family moved to Arizona in April, after living in Orlando for nine years. It's a move that took a long time (much longer than anticipated — we had headed down to Orlando in a black SUV for a two week trip and visit to Disney World on the way to Arizona, and got stuck). It's a move that was an answer to many thousands of prayers. The desert has welcomed me back home. 

Arizona Desert

Also, we have a hedgehog now. 

His name is Li'l Sebastian P. Merrywinkle. Sometimes, he wears a hat. 

hedgehog wearing hat

Have you looked at hedgehog tattoos? 
They are almost as cute as the real thing. Especially the bookish ones.


  1. I love this post!! Miss you! SO glad you are happy at home in the desert. :) (The lower back imagined tatoo cracked me up. SO glad I didn't do that in the 90s too!) I have zero tattoos, but think about getting on all the time. We must use the same test.

  2. Good to hear from you. :)

    Good and healing thoughts to you and to those you love.


  3. So, for the strangest reason I find myself here today and in discovering you've written I'm thinking, omg, have I missed so much of her words? I'm reading this and I'm kind of weeping. Miss you, friend. This is such a beautiful post. So lovely. I hope it helped you to write all this out. Just so many perfect words and perfectly described situations. After a weekend of tattoo talk here and a Sharpie tattoo on my inner arm (check my FB profile and you'll stumble across it!) I am relating to this all too well right now. Love you. xo