I was sitting at my desk, quietly working on the website when I heard the basement door open:
“What are you up to?”
Kat strolled over to my work space in the middle of our living room and stood over me as I edited through a video.
“Just working on stuff for the website, putting together a film for my man Chris Gregory.”
I removed myself from focus as Kat took a seat on the leather couch adjacent to my work space.
“Y’know…You always talk about how much you love tattoos…how come you don’t have one?”
I looked at Kat, I looked back at my computer…
10 years of my life flashed behind my eyes.
I remembered my earliest days on campus at the University of Richmond, riding a bicycle to the tune of Sublime. A year, maybe more, of their entire discography on constant shuffle through my MP3 player…
I remembered the pain of drug addiction.
Years of maintaining a high I felt I needed, felt I deserved…chasing the truth as it was embedded in my brain via Brad’s lyrics. Searching to understand the emotion that Nowell portrayed through his music.
I remembered the anxiety that came with acceptance. Understanding that I had become that which I revered.
I felt the darkness of detox, a chasm of decrepit description…hopeless, aimless, and tired. A man broken by the choices he had made. Sweating in a room as my body adjusted itself to a climate of normalcy, shuddering as the remnants of poison were removed from my body.
Desolate; a barren moonscape of lost memories and sordid decisions.
I saw myself emerge from the darkness, grasping at a life lived without the need for a high…
I remembered my trudge towards the light. I remember telling myself that when I was sober for a year, I would get the tattoo I had envisioned since my sophomore year of college. An incentive to stay in my lane, to stay sober long enough to fulfill a life long dream.
The year came and passed…
I visited a tattoo parlor and attempted to describe the vision I saw. A tattoo that was a combination of Sun and Moon, Dark and Light, Floyd and Sublime…A symbolic expression of the life I had lived up until that moment.
The artist was unable to replicate my idea, and I moved on.
Eventually, a friend offered to draw up the idea.
Sam Rathvon took pencil to paper and drafted it fully, and for the first time, I saw a vision manifest in front of my eyes…
I kept the piece of art and continued on with life.
Holding an intent to get the tattoo when someone wanted to give it to me.
I didn’t want to pay a random tattoo artist to draw it on me, I didn’t want to influence someone with something as trivial as money to perfect a permanent piece of art on my body.
I knew the only way this tattoo would ever be birthed unto me would be if someone wanted to give it to me, wanted to invest their energy solely for the purpose of art and creativity.
I wanted someone to want to tattoo me.
To meet someone serendipitously who heard my idea, and dug it enough to want to draw it on me. Who understood my story enough to want to invest precious energy in pursuit of something greater than an exchange of money.
An exchange of art. An exchange of permanence. An exchange of positivity, birthing something into the world, and unto me.
A piece of art more valuable than any lump sum of currency, crafted and created for us to carry forever.
Like a memory, or an experience…
A story of service in the pursuit of meaning and value.
I had accepted the story for myself, understanding that I may never meet someone willing enough to invest in it.
When I spoke it out loud, the story could sound selfish, or lazy…
It sometimes was received as cheap, or manipulative…
It sounded like a dream that was too radical to actually manifest.
I looked back at Kat and told her the reason I hadn’t gotten it yet, why the original draft of the tattoo still hung quietly in my room…
I unveiled the story and slowly turned back to the computer to stare off into space…
“I want to give it to you.”
She opened up her address book and we scheduled a session at her tattoo parlor. She cleared her Saturday afternoon to give me a permanent piece of creativity…
An exchange of energy in the form of tattoo.
Forever binding my ideas, my beliefs, and my story to me.
I brought a camera and filmed the experience.
This is: “From the Ether to the Flesh”
For my E-mail friends, click this link to watch the video: Kat Maxman “From the Ether to the Flesh”
Kat is delivering fine art regularly at American Ink & Iron Tattoo Company in Jasper, Ga. She has also modeled for Van Michael Salon in Buckhead, GA.
Follow Kat Maxman on Instagram: @KatMaxman