A friend of mine is getting a tattoo. I have one – a tree. It is black and is shaded grey and extends up from my left hip and over my belly. My tattoo is the mark of books read, of world trees. A silver tie pin. A refuge. A home that was built out of mud. My dog, barking at a thieving bird. Roots, clasping soil. Growth, always. It is a sunset that filled the world with transformative, bright orange flames. It is family. My father. My sister, lost. It is secret knowledge, mysteries. It is bare branches and strength.
It is an indelible mark that you can see, if I show you. But indelible marks are not always on the surface.
Indelible marks can be made up of songs. Slow songs, old songs, songs about drowning. Buildings. Churches. Cubbyhouses that are walled with old sheets. Marks can be walkways, pathways, routes to work. Colours can mark you. Flowers. Scents. Crushed herbs. Old wax. Biblical jasmine.
We all carry them and they all carry meaning.
People mark us. Lovers. Strangers. Family. The people who heal our hearts and the people who break them. They mark us with their kindness and they mark us with their fury. People mark us with recipes and memories and laughter. They mark us, forever, with that one conversation held deep in the night over a bottle of wine. People mark us more deeply than any needled ink. And we mark them. Sometimes, people show up in ink. And sometimes they don’t.
Sometimes it is a matter of marking ourselves anew.