i went to watch eryka and karina get tattooed and ended up asking the only available artist if he’d start a piece for me. willing and able and working, he agreed and we got started. it was a piece i had thought about getting for years. the key necklace you got me for the grammys in 09, with your eye in the top oval shape. we always wore key necklaces when we were apart from each other. that weekend at the bridge school benefit you autographed something by drawing an eye above a key shape. after 2012, you complained about me having tattoos with other people and none for you. I told you we didn’t need them because it could jinx us. so, now that you’ve slipped into the shadow, it is right that i honor you this way and keep you here with me, in this way.
the first tattoo for you was the I on my left ring finger at that shitty parlor near your nashville home. neither of us were too fond of marriage as an institution, but always knew if we were going to marry anyone, it would be each other. when i saw you in June in NY you left me an envelope at the hotel, ink 48 in hell’s kitchen. you wrote Danielle Owens on it. I saved it. it’s sitting on your ofrenda now. along with the love letter you mailed me in dec 2010 when we broke up and you moved back to long beach from berkeley.
just two days before you died, i was at heart and dagger with mona and i told her
“i think during this nashville trip, im gonna talk to ikey about us getting married”
mona said, knowing we live in different states and hardly see each other. “because we both know no one else can touch what we have”.
i had no clue i’d be in nashville to say good bye to you instead
so, i went to that shitty parlor and the guy was pressed for time and was being an ass about it. he was flagging all the signs that say ‘don’t let this guy tattoo you’. and i was about to leave. it just wasn’t right but it was my last night in nashville so i really wanted to do it there, where you were ready to start a new chapter. where you wanted me to visit. where you wanted to convince me to settle down with you soon. the music was on shuffle. pretty basic shit had been playing and as he was working on our 5th draft and i was ready to walk out, portishead, live at roseland came on. “only you”. i started tearing up immediately. he sat back down and i said
‘look. this tattoo is more important to me than anything in the world at this moment. if you are stressed about time, i need to leave’.
he apologized and said we have plenty of time and we both took a breath, and got to work.
then came the eye-key. as the artist, who calls himself “paper”, got started the girls and i were talking, shooting the shit, and speaking in spanish. paper joined in so i asked him where he was from. he said Mexico. I asked what part. he said Puebla. I freaked out inside. outwardly, i said ‘oh my god. are you serious?? that’s exactly where ikey passed away’. the other artist, alex, who was tattooing karina looked up. it was quiet in the room.
i teared up again. this time they were happy tears. so reassured that you were definitely overseeing some things from the shadow and keeping a close, loving eye on me. so, your close, loving eye will be in my skin once this tattoo is complete.
when things like that happen, and there have been others, i am more and more convinced that this physical shell i inhabit is still here to learn some lessons, here to pass some test. you’ve left me the tools, weapons, and magic i need to figure it out this time, in this particular vessel, and when it’s over, you’re right there, as big and vast as you always were waiting to intertwine with me again.
i think of you as an entire galaxy, your cosmic hand stirring the fire inside me and inhaling the steam from this cauldron with pride. ‘it is changing finally, it is aging well’ you say, breathing me in with your ladle in hand.
no more talk of ending this life. i walk this path before me armed knowing i’ll be with you again. our love hasn’t gone anywhere. im not religious. neither you. i just know how eternal our love is and it can’t be destroyed. i can’t wait to swim in the stars with you and watch the rest of this world unfurl. together.