You know…first steps, first words, car, house, etc? Remember the feelings that came crashing around you just before you succeeded into those “first” unknowns? Nervousness, excitement, wonder, anxiety? Yes and yes, to all of them.
All week, those recurring feelings began creeping upon me again. Thursday marked another first. My first tattoo. As spontaneous as I am, this event was actually well-orchestrated and planned out. So much so, I had three other friends accompany me since they had been discussing it themselves. They all had their own reasons, and it hit me a few weeks ago. Now is the time. I picked a date and said let’s do it! We all appeared at Johnny Two Thumb in Far East Plaza to take turns under the gun.
Before I tell you my experience, I must let you peer into my head for a brief moment. You know those moments in life where you feel like your faith is supremely being tested?? Wellllll, this past week definitely took the cake! Josh is in Germany for nine days, my big one fell ill with a 103 fever + deep chest cough for three days (we were in the clear for two days), and then little fella caught it – fever and all. He’s finally better, but has decided to start teething his two year molars, which is the devil disguised in a 19 month old’s body. Oh and did I mention, our visas expire on October 27th and we still have absolutely zero clue as to where we are moving?? Like there are four possible countries in the running at the moment. This is epic. I am generally a calm, cool, collected cucumber, but my nerves are slimming to shot. It’s especially hard when you have a six hour time difference between you and hubby, so it’s basically impossible to chat…and I thought a 12 hour time difference back home was tough. Hah!
I had visions of doing so many things in advance… look/see trip, applying for preschools, house hunting, etc. I’m realizing these could all quite possibly happen on the fly. If you’ve moved, then you know it’s a huge undertaking. If you’ve toyed with the idea of doing it on an international level, then take all the finite details and multiple them times a 1,000. Of course, there is selling/purging of unwanted items, sorting bulky things for cargo shipment versus airfreight, and then finally packing bags to keep you and your family afloat until your household shipment is delivered literally eight weeks later. Not to mention, finding new doctors, grocery stores, and mode of transportation all in a foreign country. They probably speak a different language, (and if you’re lucky) have broken english, drive and walk on the opposite side of the street, and without a doubt have different customs and cultural norms you need to study and also educate your kids.
All this being said, my head and heart have been spinning on end this week. I’ve kept us insanely busy and out of the house to keep my sanity from caving on me. There’s not enough cardio and yoga to squash this anxiety. I finally gave it all to God. While I’ve been praying for peace, answers, understanding, guidance, and patience with it all – it’s still really hard! All of a sudden, it hit me. There was no time like the questionable present to finally get the tattoo I’d talked about for more than a decade. Once upon a time, I would tell my college girlfriends I wanted a tattoo on my foot to represent “taking every step in faith.” I couldn’t get anyone to go with me, and I didn’t want to go by myself. Something told me it just wasn’t the right time.
Fast forward to now…
Daniela went first. This was her third, so she knew what she was doing 🙂
Since mine was fairly simple, I went next. I airdropped the guy a picture of what I wanted. He printed the image on paper (which resembled a temporary tattoo) and stuck it on me to get my approval. I instantly fell in love with what I saw, so the girl got to work. Ten minutes later…done!
And I don’t care what folks say. It does hurt! The body part of my fish and the cross were just fine. The tails are what hurt. Not the first line she dug into my skin, but the second time she raked the needle through my thin, open flesh on top of my heel bone?! Yeahhhhh, that hurt. Thank goodness it’s only an inch long. I didn’t want to slap her or anything- just winced my face a bunch. It’s like someone telling you a finger prick doesn’t hurt. Liar! In the moment, it DOES hurt. But then it’s done.
Although, the owner of the shop was nice enough to share his Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel with me during the process. The southern gal in me couldn’t resist.
Yes, I worship Jesus… and yes, I like the taste of whiskey.
Brechtje went next. She lived in India prior to Singapore, and that’s where she had her first two children tattooed within an infinity symbol. Low and behold, she thought she was done reproducing… and a few years later, out popped Arsene. She always joked that Arsene needed his own tattoo before he could read. Haha! The tattoo artist laughed when she swore she wasn’t having anymore kids! He highly discouraged the addition if she was remotely thinking about a 4th baby.
It turned out great, though! And the writer in me fell head over heels for that font…swoon, so pretty.
Ruchi went last. She shared a similar thought process behind having “hope” permanently imprinted on her arm.
You guys, there were three people in the shop getting tattoos that would take 4-5 hours! I realize what we did was nothing to those of you who have larger pieces of art on your body. But each scribble…each inscription… permanently inked onto our bodies means something profound to each of us.
I say all this, because this week has been a rough one emotionally. I will be saying goodbye to friends who’ve made quite an impact on my life very very soon, my big guy was out of pocket, my little guys were sick off and on all week, and our visas expire in less than one month. Have I mentioned our visas expire in less than one month?! Sheesh. I’m sure if you are a believer, your faith would be teetering juuuuust a bit too.
In the grand scheme of things, this blog was created to inspire people. Not necessarily motivating you to get a tattoo, but to do whatever is tugging at your heart. Since my last post, I’ve had two mommas tell me I inspired them to book a solo retreat for themselves. Therefore, I felt the urge to share this fun bit of life. I have learned, seen, and experienced far more than I ever imagined on this expat journey. One thing I’ve always kept close to my heart is, God has perfect timing. Not only have I been telling myself this over and over and over again in the past few weeks, it also hit me while sitting in the tattoo shop. The fella in charge of my temporary stick on, drew my cross similar to the American Red Cross. It looked like a standard cross bar. I looked at him funny and said, “no, like a cross. A real cross. Like a real Christian cross.” He still looked at me funny. It hit me. He might not understand what I’m talking about.
Growing up in the Bible belt region of the US, everyone knew what “the cross” was and what it represented. You might not be a believer, but you were well aware of what it meant. I was stunned. I literally stood up and put my arms out from my body and said,” like Jesus dying on the cross!” Two of my girlfriends had to assist in explaining as well. He took out the original “t” and let me draw in the actual cross that I wanted before the artist inked it into my skin. The gal that worked on me questioned my cross and why I wanted it added the fish. She said people often want the fish but not the cross. I gave her a very brief rundown of our crazy story- from Jack’s birth in TX, to how we wound up in Singapore three years later (via Atlanta) with yet another son.
While she was working, I definitely felt the Spirit. Call me corny for having a God moment in a tattoo parlor, but I did. I definitely did. While this stranger was engraving my skin, I had this sudden wave of peace wash over me. I suddenly felt like everything was going to be okay. Whatever happens in the next few weeks, God’s got this. He won’t let us down. As a good friend told me the other night, “there’s no way He put you guys on the other side of the world to leave you high and dry at the end of this program.” Even if He does, I know it was His will and plan for us. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve glanced at my ankle over the past few days and felt that same recurring peace wash back over me. It has been a refreshing reminder. There’s always a reason for the way our life stories unfold, and I know it wasn’t meant for me to get that tattoo over a decade ago. It was meant for now. That constant visual reminder has kept me grounded in knowing God has our back and won’t leave us “high and dry.”
Thank you, friends!
You wonderful, crazy, spectacular women gave me incredible support, laughter, and memories for years to come.