I’m really tired as I start to write this on Thursday evening, so it’ll probably be messy grammatically and I’ll probably edit and post it some time Friday. I do, however, want to try to capture today while it’s still fresh in my mind. I started off the day by wandering around Manhattan near the Plaza Hotel for a while, and then eventually went in and explored a marketplace of sorts that I found in the basement. Behind the marketplace, there was a gift shop themed around a character named Eloise: a little girl, who lives at the Plaza, from a book that my parents used to read to me. I won’t lie, I probably spent a little over an hour in that store. It was surreal to see the place where beloved books of my childhood were set, and to relive the joy that they used to bring me. I ended up buying two Eloise books from that store, as well as a few postcards with the artwork from the books on them.
My legs were pretty tired by the time I finished shopping, so I sat in the Plaza and people-watched for about an hour. By the time my legs recovered, it was time to head out again. This time, I was heading out for one of my main purposes in coming to New York: a long awaited tattoo from an artist that I really admire. I took a taxi from Manhattan to Brooklyn, where the studio is located, admiring the view from the Brooklyn Bridge along the way.
To be frank, I’m not sure how to describe just how meaningful this afternoon was to me. As the artist that I had contacted specializes in black and grey work, often styled to look somewhat like medieval sketches, I requested a piece inspired by a still life painting. More specifically, I wanted a piece inspired by a Vanitas still life. For those unfamiliar, these paintings symbolize the transience of life, the futility of pleasure, and the certainty of death. Essentially, Vanitas pieces serve to remind us how impermanent our places in this life are. While some may find that thought discouraging, I find a great deal of comfort in the fact that nothing is permanent; not even this tattoo. In impermanence, there is freedom; for no situation is inescapable. It is never too late to turn your life on it’s head if you fully commit to doing so.
I have had some pretty good discussions with tattoo artists while they do their work, but none of them even held a candle to that of Thursday. Discussing my inspiration for the tattoo led to discussing my motivations for being in New York, comparing life paths, comparing passions, exchanging advice, and so many other topics that escape me now. I left that appointment not only with a beautiful and intricate tattoo on my forearm, but also renewed motivation, confidence, and reassurance that my life path is valid. My plans, while unconventional and somewhat in flux, are valid. So long as I keep pushing forward and pursuing opportunities for personal growth, I will find success and happiness. This tattoo serves me not only as art to decorate my body, but a beautiful reminder of this period in my life and of what I am capable of. I can’t wait for it to heal and feel just as much a part of me as my other tattoos do.
This trip feels beautiful and surreal at every turn. I can’t stop repeating how fortunate I feel to be doing this. I can feel myself growing as a person and an artist at every moment, and all I want to do is pause it all and properly soak it in. Life is a rollercoaster, and I want to ride this high for as long as I can before the next drop.