I was walking in Brazil, passing the corner of Guatemala & Mexico. I’d just left my tattoo appointment without a tattoo.
I have a fair number of tattoos, all but one of them quite large. They mean a great deal to me — markers on my journey, if you will.
They are also a conversation between me and the artist. My story mixed with their art carried around on my portable art gallery.
Zulu, my first artist, used to say that his job wasn’t to put art on me. It was to pull the art out from inside me that was already there.
On this day, though, there was something about the conversation, something about the collaboration, that wasn’t quite lining up.
At many other points in my life, I would have gone through with it anyway. I had traveled here for this particular artist. I had planned this for months. I was excited about it. And saying no is, by definition, a rejection. I didn’t want to reject her.
None of those thoughts changes that, in the moment, the conversation wasn’t lining up. So, as gracefully as I could under the circumstances (which wasn’t terribly graceful), I called it off and left.
It didn’t feel good to say no. I have sadness as I write this. But I know without a doubt that it was the right call, for both my story and her art.
The right call is not always the joyful one in the moment. That doesn’t make it any less right.
(I was also thinking about this for at least a day or two afterwards. She drew designs on me in sharpie!)