So, I got a tattoo.
This, granted, is something I’ve been talking about for a long time, but I seriously started considering a tattoo in March, when my boyfriend and I were sitting in traffic, trying to get to Dodgers Stadium to see Billy Joel.
I initially wanted to get an eagle tattooed on my forearm, but that seemed excessive. Keeping music in mind, I shuffled through half a dozen ideas, including a crescent moon, in honor of my spiritual mother, Stevie Nicks. Eventually, I decided I wanted my first tattoo to be song lyrics. That did almost nothing to narrow down my options. I considered lyrics from some of my favorite songs, including the Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever,” Jackson Browne’s “Daddy’s Tune,” and the Eagles’ “Take It Easy,” looking for the words. I wanted lyrics from a song that I didn’t anticipate myself getting tired of. I wanted them to say something personal and meaningful.
In the end, the words I chose between were the Beatles’ “There Will Be an Answer, Let it Be” and Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty.”
“Let It Be” is, arguably, my favorite Beatles song (and, arguably, my favorite Beatles album). It has long been a source of comfort to me, one of the songs I turn to in times of trouble. As someone who often struggles with anxiety and an overwhelming feeling that life is totally pointless, that we’re all just floating through outer space with limited direction, that there is no answer, the idea that there will be an answer, that if we let it be the universe will show us an answer, is incredibly relieving.
“Running On Empty,” is, similarly, a source of great comfort to me. The last months of 2017 have left me feeling pointless and hopeless and directionless, trying with difficulty to care about the things I need to do to survive. Although I have ideas for the future and things I love and things I want to do in my life, I feel as if time just keeps passing without my getting anywhere. So, as 2017 came to a close, “Running On Empty” became my personal anthem, reminding me that it’s okay not to know what you’re doing or where you’re running, to feel empty and to keep running on.
This is the tattoo I ended up getting, choosing “Running on Empty” over the Beatles’ lyrics mainly because it’s Jackson Browne and, as much as I love the Beatles, I will always love Jackson Browne more. “Running On Empty” is also the reason I love Jackson Browne as much as I do. I’ve mentioned before that “Rosie” is the song that made me fall in love with Jackson Browne, but I only heard it because I went out of my way to listen to “Running On Empty” and ended up listening to the rest of that album.
Getting a tattoo was less painful than I anticipated but way more surreal. I had to keep reminding myself that I was actually reclining in a tattoo parlor getting a tattoo, not having a scarily realistic dream. The font is my own handwriting, and I got the tattoo done yesterday at Mule Tattoo in Tustin, Calif. It looks exactly as beautiful as I hoped it would, and I am so, so happy to have it.
Despite the amount of time I spent thinking about getting a tattoo and my absolute confidence that I was happy with the words I had chosen, I’m still shocked that I actually got a tattoo. I think part of me was sure I was just going to keep talking about getting a tattoo forever and never get one. I feel like a new person.