Sunday, August 19, 2007

we have ink

ladies and gentlemen, honu are in the house.

which is to say, i'm in the house, and the honu are on my arm. four of them. the largest in green, a smaller one in maroon, two, smaller still, in blue and orange.

the girl's name curves along one side of the vignette.

i got an orca tattoo to celebrate the birth of the boy, more than nine years ago. i said all along i'd get one for the girl as just took a few years longer than expected. now that it's done, my inking is complete.

there was more pain involved this time. or, more pain than i remembered, anyway. more color this time. more area covered.

tattoo people, i decided while waiting, are outliers. i don't count myself among them, even now. i'm talking about people who have ink all over their bodies. ink sleeves on their arms, spider webs on their necks, elaborate murals on their backs. often there is a direct correlation between ink and piercings. ears, of course, but also tongues, and noses. lips and eyebrows have gone mainstream as well. scalps were new to me, as was the sternum stud on the girl at the front desk. i wanted to ask, "where does that anchor?" but i didn't.

others in the shop had large disks in lips and ears, like africans last seen in national geographic. i have no insight on the existential purpose of such fashion, across cultures, across continents. i don't feel part of whatever clique this describes. they have their reasons. i have mine.

a young man nearby, he must've still been in his teens, was having a major, intricate creation done on his side. he looked to be an athlete, a basketball player, by his build and his accoutrements. he was clearly in considerable pain, wringing a rolled-up towel in his strong hands when the needle was particularly pernicious. "always loved, never forgotten" his tattoo said. someone close to him had died, i not-so-cleverly surmised. if it's true, then why would the tattoo be necessary? pain on top of pain. i suppose we all have our ways of commemorating our humanity.

my tattoos, i like to think, are life-affirming and joyous. a lifelong reminder of unpredictable events set in motion long ago.

for more than nine years, owing to the presence of children i never dreamed i'd have, one day has rarely resembled another. but then, change keeps us young, lest we get too set in our ways. and it's good not to be too predictable.

so, after a long wait...there are honu in the house.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

things i can almost see

early in the morning, watching my son yawn sleepily at the table, i can almost see the very young boy he once was.

back then he was kinda round, with blond hair that stuck up in every direction and a smile that melted hearts. he was guileless and carefree, with an endearingly close orbit around me and his mom. he also had a hint of an independent streak, which was only slightly worrisome. surely he would always be this boy, and life would always be so good.

today the boy is getting tall. he's skinny, like his uncle was at the same age, and like his uncle, the independent streak is strong. it will probably serve him well, one day. down the road. i can almost see that. until then, i see a boy who has to do things his own way, no matter the cost. it's now slightly more worrisome.

our back yard has changed dramatically in the last six months. gone is the grass and half a foot of topsoil, taken up by the shovelful and hauled off one wheelbarrow at a time. there is a verdant array of trees and plants in this small area, linked by an expanse of two-foot pavers. at about 60 pounds apiece, the pavers are unwieldy; they nestle heavily into the fine gravel hauled in, dumped and wheelbarrow at a time.

i can almost see the haven this little oasis will become. it'll be cool and quiet, hidden from the outside world by a delicate lace of greenery. in summer, a bamboo shade on our pergola will provide all the cover we'll need from the sun settling behind the olympic mountains. in fall, a propane patio heater will let us extend summer's warmth just a bit longer, before the rains come.

my dogs spent lazy, languid days back here. i can almost see them now, curled up in a shady spot near the deck. they would've liked this purlieus, i think, had they the luxury of just a bit more time. it would've been nice to share it with them, for a little while.

even now, their collars and leashes hang patiently on the garage wall. their familiar, big-dog scents still linger on the faded canvas, filling the moment with warm memories.

but things happen and time passes. it's now a year that they've been gone, and many changes have come in the interim. as easy as it is for me to revisit the end of their time with us, i think it would be healthy if i did something forward-looking instead.

the boy and a new dog now roughhouse in the front yard. he smiles and laughs, feints and dodges, as she gives chase on little-dog legs. time does strange things as i watch them through the kitchen window, flashing forward and back, stitching together something important and intangible. surely he will always be this boy, and life will always be so good.

and now i recognize the loose end untied in my heart. it's a ritual i've put off for a year, and it's time to take care of it. today, amid the work and the change and swirling of time, i'll add my dogs' ashes to the haven we're creating out back. there they'll be in a well-loved place, and underfoot. as always.

it's merely symbolism, but sometimes symbolism is important. and necessary. and healing.

this feels like one of those times.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

mahalo, maui...

...aloha o'ahu.

maui was very nice. it doesn't live up to the hype, but how many things in this life do? except alice cooper, perhaps, whom we saw at the makena golf club. but besides him, not much.

so, i'd go back, but rather than be redundant, we'll head to o'ahu, in november.

never been to hawaii in my life, now we're going twice in 4 months. go figure. but mrs. spaceneedle scored some cheap tickets online, and it's too good an opportunity to pass up.

o'ahu has a reputation for tourists, traffic and some other t-word to be named later. as long as it isn't "temperance."

we'll do our homework a bit more diligently this time. we've already bought an "insider's guide" to the island, which may be a joke the natives play on tourists. no matter. whatever we learn will be more than we know now.

i'll also head into the nearest dive shop to update my gear. turns out the equipment purchased second-hand in 1993 is slightly out of date. worked perfectly well 4 years ago.

time flies, whether you're having fun or not. i need more fun in my life.