Ink & Time

Today Facebook gently reminded me that precisely one year ago I walked into Hearts of Fire Tattoo shop to get some artwork committed to my body. It’s my take on a mermaid kissing an old-school deep sea diver, and while the artwork’s original, the design isn’t; when I first saw it, and saw it in my mind’s eye, I knew right then and there it would become a permanent fixture. It was symbolic for so many reasons; my love of the ocean, growing up around old divers, a fascination with life underwater, the lore and lure of the mermaid, just where I was in life.

Which is to say, I was wandering a proverbial ocean’s floor in terms of my heart. I knew she was my muse, even in all those months spent occupying separate worlds. I had come to terms with the fact that finding your hearts’ counterpart has all of the probability of crossing paths with a mermaid as you traverse your own seas; had come to terms with the fact that we’d crossed paths once and that that had to be enough. Here we were on the eve of Valentine’s, with no plans to spend time with one another; as I took a deep sigh and entered into the shop, little could I know she was with friends just a few blocks away at a party and in a completely other world. We both were, and yet I felt the need to commit to this idea, years in the mental making. Several hours and a cocktail later, it came to life.

The elusive mermaid kisses the diver and in worlds apart they are bonded for a lifetime. This is what happens when you meet the one who ignites your soul; they leave an indelible mark there and we’re forever altered. We might go through the motions of life with various characters that enter and leave our current narrative, but the ones that count endure. That number shrinks in inverse proportion to our age; our tribes become much smaller, yet infinitely stronger and more important as the years pass. Through those most painful of growth stages, only a very few will remain, and that’s as it should be; bonds meant to last a lifetime are a rarity and their very scarcity makes us appreciate their beautiful, unquantifiable value. Count you a lucky one to have a friend that weathers the storms with you without question. And to find one whom will endure your hearts’ raging torrents and still allow you inside their innermost walls of vulnerability and trust? That’s as rare as seeing your mermaid more than once. And if I’ve learned anything, when you get that chance to love the one with whom your heart and soul are intertwined, you damn well better love her with the whole of your being, fiercely and calmly all at once, without end.

Fast forward, one year later to the day.

No realistic story ever includes “happily ever after”; that is just some writer’s way of winding down the tale. In truth, the journey is taking steps daily, forward mostly, but sometimes stumbling back. Old ghosts haunt and life’s grind interferes with the pursuit of the kind of creative growth that lets two people bring out the very best in one another. That’s as it should be too, because an authentic life is one that is the most savory and full of flavor. I know we’ll trip and fall, more than most perhaps, because truly living and risking and loving involves a scary amount of trust.

My soul no longer wanders in search of her and I am a grateful man, indeed. To watch her eyes dance, to feel her sweet heart beating in rhythm with my own after so much time, to feel the electricity that courses through when she reaches out to grab my hand….this is why in a lifetime of searching the oceans of life, I don’t believe I could ever experience such a powerful love as I feel for her.

She is my muse and my mermaid.

She is love, defined.

So thank you, Facebook, for reminding me of the step I took that fateful evening. But my heart was already there, February 14th and 364 other days a year.