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This is me. For the first several hours.











Then this is me. For five days.

house bored

Fifteen years ago, I got my first tattoo. It’s Matisse’s Blue Nude IV (in black) on my lower back. I love it.

Fourteen years ago, I was a bridesmaid in my brother’s wedding and as my mom was doing a last-minute dress fitting she saw the tattoo. She didn’t comment until later when I was going to join the family at the hotel pool: “Don’t let your grandmother see that thing on your back.”

We have never spoken of that tattoo again. To this day I have no idea if she ever told my dad about it.

One year ago, I took my first trip to Europe (England and Ireland) and Mr. Zoo and I got souvenir tattoos in London. Mine is a two-ish-inch anchor on my left inner wrist (my dad had a Navy anchor tattoo on his chest). I love it.

I had many moments of angst over my mom seeing this tattoo, given it’s size and location. I didn’t see her until six months after I got it, though, so by that time the newness had worn off and I had forgotten to be anxious about it. She saw it, commented, we had a brief conversation, she made some comment about how I used to say I was afraid of the pain of childbirth but didn’t mind getting tattoos, and that was that. She’s not crazy about it but aside from a few looks combining judgment and disappointment, we’re fine.

One month ago, I was back home visiting my mom. My grandma is now living with her. I had no plan in place for hiding my wrist tattoo from my grandma. It’s too large to be hidden by a watch or bracelet, and Hawaii is never conducive to long sleeves.

I had been there for about twelve hours. I was having breakfast, and wearing a long-sleeved robe over my nightclothes even though it was 75 degrees because I am a 41-year-old adult who is scared of incurring her grandmother’s wrath. Things were going well until I decided to show my mom the shorts I got at the Spam Museum last summer. They say SPAM in huge letters across the ass. (Again, yes, I am a 41-year-old adult. Whatever, the shorts are hilarious.)

So I flip up my robe and show my mom the shorts. She laughs and tells me to show Gram. So I do. Completely forgetting I have a back tattoo that my grandmother has never seen.

Now, my grandmother is almost completely deaf but at 98 years old she is still pretty sharp. So Mom and I were confused when she just kept looking at us. We must have explained the concept of there being an actual Spam Museum in Minnesota four times, all while Gram is just staring at us.

Finally my mom asked her if she saw my shorts and Gram looked at me and said, “That’s not all I saw.”

At which point I hightailed it into the kitchen. So I made it fifteen years without her knowing I had a tattoo, managed to hide the one on my wrist somehow, but showed off my tramp stamp in an absolutely classy way.

Zoo, for the win.

This is kind of embarrassing, but I don’t enjoy most children. Not because I find them annoying or loud or self-involved or whatever – I realize that’s basically in their job description. Mostly I am uncomfortable around them because I don’t know how to talk to them. When they’re babies, it’s easy because, well, (a) they don’t talk, and (2) their needs (of the feed, change, hold, cuddle, make obnoxious noises to distract them, etc., variety) are easily met. I feel silly saying that I don’t know how to converse with a child, because logically it would seem pretty straightforward. Children don’t typically want to discuss philosophy or math and the like. But I’m awkward at small talk with adults, too, and I think the fact that I have very rare contact with children makes that social anxiety more magnified. However, on the heels of my delightful visit with the cutest, most smartest baby ever, I think I was carrying around some extra confidence and benevolence. So on the flight home, when I and all my other Southwest passengers lined up by our group letters and numbers like the good little flock of sheep that we were, when I ended up behind a woman with a baby and toddler, I didn’t inwardly cringe like I might normally have done in the past. I made googly faces at her baby in the stroller when she started to get cranky. I picked up her pacifier that she emphatically threw on the ground. I complimented the three-year-old on her scarf and asked if she was excited to go on her trip. (“We are going to see Opa and Oma!!!”) Their mom was absolutely delightful and very appreciative, but honestly, I just felt like I was doing what any reasonable adult should do.

So when we boarded the plane, I chose the seat directly behind this little family. (I admit there was a small chance that it was a selfish move – I figured if the flight wasn’t full it was unlikely anyone would choose to sit next to me and behind two kids.) But mostly it was because the mom seemed nice and that I felt my resume had been recently beefed up in the act of distracting babies. What followed was as delightful a plane ride as can be expected when you’re trapped in a steel box thousands of miles above ground. The older child had the window seat right in front of me and she kept peeking between the seats to say hello and chat with me. Of course once we took off, I could barely understand her over the noise of the plane, but I just would say something back to her and honestly, who cares if it didn’t make sense to her either – she’s three after all. And there’s something to be said for the pure excitement and joy of a child on an airplane (“We’re FLYING!!!”) that kind of takes away from the usual feeling I have on a plane (“Don’t crash, please don’t crash, don’t crash”). Even though she was very confused that everyone on the plane wasn’t also going to see her Opa and Oma. (“Opa is coming to meet us at the airport! Are you coming to Opa’s house?!!!!”) She was also helpful, though. (“My mommy said to sit down and keep my selt belt on!” Did your mommy say the same thing?” and when I told her I wasn’t traveling with my mommy: “Why not? Doesn’t your mommy want to fly with you to come to Opa’s house?!”) Her mom was so considerate and I’m sure told her repeatedly to not bother me, and, I’m assuming, used the words, give her some peace and quiet. Because at one point in the flight, she snuck (sneaked?) her head around, between the seat and the window and therefore away from her mother, and whispered in that loud-toddler-whisper, “ARE YOU ENJOYING YOUR PEACE AND QUIET?” Hilarious. Besides, she had really impeccable taste. (“I love you the most!”)

And totally made up for the last time I flew alone.


March 2019
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