Sunday, October 24, 2010

Me and my tree

(warning: post may include sappy, sentimental gushings)

Once upon a time there was a little girl who loved trees...

Its hard to pinpoint when my love for trees began. But overtime it has definitely continued to grow. I have been interested in getting another tattoo for some time now and wanted to make sure that I was really settled in what I wanted to get. Knowing quite well the commitment in getting one. After going several years with the general idea not changing, I figured it was worth moving forward on it.

Without going into too much detail I will admit that going through the divorce definitely gave me another push in getting this done. If nothing else divorce definitely makes you re-evaluate yourself. And you end up focusing in on you a bit more. For good or bad. I tried getting something set up to get the tattoo done last year around my birthday. But things just kept seeming to not really work out. I now know why. I wasn't ready yet.

A few months ago at work I was asked to fill in and take minutes at a meeting. It was for a local gallery stroll and was full of gallery owners. One of the women there owned a gallery/tattoo parlor called the Painted Temple. She just seemed like a really interesting person and I have never noticed the place even though I drive by it a couple times a week.

I looked their place up online and started browsing the artists work. And then I saw the trees. Daniel Walker's stuff just grabbed me. It was the detail in the bark. The texture of the trees that I just didn't feel in others work I had looked at. I found my artist. And it turns out trees are his favorite thing to tattoo. Definitely a match.

Like any good artist, there would be a wait. And so the nerves kicked in. Two of my sisters with tattoos reassured me that it was all normal and the wait continued. Finally last Saturday the day came. I will admit to a bit of a break down that morning. It had been, and was to come a big week. This was just another thing thrown into a lot of other emotional stuff. I showed up at the appointment nervous. Would I be able to tell him what I really wanted? Would he do a good job? Would I be able to handle the pain? Would I be happy with the end result?

The session started with Daniel and I going through inspiration pictures. We both quickly narrowed the search to several pictures of live oaks. We both loved the unique twists and turns of the trees. Daniel doesn't do any pre-sketching of the tattoos. He likes to design it to your body so he does the sketching right on you. Most of the trees that he does have a bit of a dark feel to them. I told him that I didn't want a dark, evil tree. Trees to me are protection, comfort, strength. Offering all of that to those who come near. He said that it would be something a bit different for him, but he thought it would be fun. And in the end he told me that my tree ended up being one of his all time favorites.

Having someone draw on my back was a very cool feeling. And when I saw the sketch I was amazed. I mean all he had done was look at a few pictures with me, pick up a sharpie and go to work. After the outline was done with the sharpie he added some more detail to the drawing with a pen. Talent is not something this guy is lacking.

With the ok to move ahead, the fun began. Now I do have a small tattoo on my foot so I am aware of the pain associated with a tattoo. But the first one took about 10 minutes. This was going to be several hours.

A favorite blog of mine is written by Heather Armstrong. I really enjoy reading her stuff and have actually meet a lot of people through it. Including Marty who comments here. Hi Marty! Last year Heather wrote a great post about giving birth to her second daughter without medication. One of the things that has stuck with me from that post was her description of dealing with the pain.

"Have you ever seen one of those yard ornaments where a constant stream of water flows over a ball of some sort? They've got a giant one at the Hogle Zoo here in Salt Lake City, and I didn't even know that I was going to have this sort of vision, but suddenly I've turned myself into that water ball at the Hogle Zoo, and the contraction is the water flowing over me. "

And that's what I pictured during the tattoo. That the pain was just washing over me. I tried very hard to not give into my natural feeling of tensing up against the pain and tried to let it wash over me. Not becoming part of me. And I'm very glad I had that visualization to focus on or I'm not sure I would have made it through the five hours. When the tattoo was done all of the built up adrenaline came flowing out and I was shaking for about 30 minutes afterward.

I'm very thankful to my good friend Becky for coming with me and taking photos to document the experience. And during the second half when I had to focus more on not giving into the pain, it was a nice distraction to listen to her and Daniel talk about art. And have to just make sure I also mention how amazing Daniel was. He put on music that we both liked, was very easy to talk to, and was just an awesome guy.

I can't explain the feeling when I looked in the mirror seeing the tree take shape. I mean its not like you get a second chance to erase. This is a one shot deal. And it was just so beautiful. So perfect. So much what I wanted. I told him later that I wasn't able to go in and describe exactly what my dream tree was. And yet somehow he was able to draw it. I wouldn't change a thing about it. Except that sometimes I wish it was somewhere that I could just stare at it.

When my sister Maiken saw it she said that it was like looking at a piece of my soul. And it is. Its an inner part of me that is now on the outside. Its a reminder to me of my strength and connection with nature. A few days after getting it I was able to be up at one of my special spots in the canyon and feel the fall breeze on my back. And it brought me to tears. Its my tree. And I'm that tree.


Britta said...

Ah, that made me cry. I always feel that when I try to describe my first tattoo that it sounds all sappy, but it's the truth. I'll never understand people who do that on a whim or while drunk/stoned.

It's beautiful, and it is so very you!

Marty Wombacher said...

Great post, Kari and a wonderful tattoo! Glad your vision is alive on your back and in your soul! Wonderful work, Daniel!

Maiken said...

There is a reason it all fell into place. Good for you for knowing when to wait and when to jump!

Bethany said...

You are so brave Kari, to have endured the five hours of pain. With childbirth, you don't know how long it is going to take to get the little tyke out of you, but with this, you knew!
The tree is beautiful as are you.

Wade The Rascal said...

I definitely love that tattoo, especially after reading this post. It's so you. Very, very cool, Kari.

kee said...

Now that I have had my tree on me for about 5 years, I am very shocked sometimes when people notice it in public and ask to see it. It is so much a part of me that I forget it is there. I forget that it is a surprise for some to see. They ask what it is and why I got it sometimes, it is not a simple answer to say 'it's my tree'. That tree is my symbol for me. You already know that when I got my tree it was a big transition period in my life and it would have not been the same without it. I know that my life would have been different had I not chosen to do it right then. I am so happy that it is there for you. It is a constant reminder. However much strain you put on your neck to see it, you can always feel it if you focus. Remember that it is there for you. You alone. It is a reminder of your strength. Your strength is as permanent as that tree. Oh sappy sisters.. I love you .-.