As the calendar year comes to a close, it seems right to take a look at the past several months, and that includes a visual inspection. My ankle is still healing, and I’ve scheduled an appointment with a wonderful acupuncturist. I’m also playing phone tag with a massage therapist who practices energy healing and am looking forward to spending an hour or so with her early in the new year.
Physically, I guess I look pretty normal, but I’m quick to find plenty of faults. There is one place on my body, however, that I treat kindly. I have a small permanent word inscripted on my lower left leg.
In Spanish, girar means to turn. Sol = sun.
So girasol literally translates as “the sun turns”.
In English, we call it a sunflower.
This is my story.
Once upon a time, I entered a building with a scrap of paper in hand, torn from the printer, a single word on the page: Girasol.
It was in a font which name I can no longer remember.
“Can I help you?” the guy at the front desk asked kindly. His words were muddled as I took in the unfamiliar scene. Photographs and images and signs covered every inch of space, walls, tables, even windows. It was a wild mix of art and graphic design, romantic and scary and strange, and distracting.
“Um, I’d like a tattoo”.
“Well, you’ve come to the right place!”
It’s interesting how someone whose arms and legs and other body parts bear images of fear and oddity and words in other languages can be such a nice and friendly person.
I wondered, as I always do, about the meaning behind the artwork on his skin.
For fifty dollars cash, I was brought back into an open space where three or four other people were having permanent ink etched into their backs, shoulders, and hands. I handed over my scrap of paper.
“No problem. It’ll take less than ten minutes”, he said. And he got to work.
Don’t believe what they say. Getting a tattoo hurts.
It was a fascinating experience. I wasn’t particularly young, and this wasn’t an impulsive decision. The artist worked quickly and quietly, glancing up every few minutes to check on my pain threshold. Before I knew it, the design was complete.
I needed something to mark the permanence of absence. I needed the mark not to remember, but to represent that, which now lives, in my mind and in the wind and in the energy of those spaces on the earth that we do not fully understand.
My sister’s favorite flower was the sunflower.
It was the fourth anniversary of my sister’s death.