I dream a lot while on the road. It’s a hold over from when I was a child, bored in the classroom and staring out the window wishing I was anywhere else. What else are you supposed to do while looking out the window? Anywhooooo…
One of the things I dream about is who I am and who I really see myself as. After years and years of taking care of other people, I’m finally putting myself first and it’s sometimes a strange feeling. If I hadn’t become a mother in 1993, my life would have been so much different. Who is the real me? The person I was on the path to become or the person I ultimately became? Considering I haven’t felt like I was in my real skin for years, I’m beginning to realize the real me is somewhere buried and I’m slowly digging her out.
When I was a child I had a small “to-do” list. Some would call it a bucket list but for me it was things I wanted to do. They were all relatively easy things and I’ve accomplished most if not all of them. Actually, the last one still lingering around is hang gliding. I’m gonna have to do something about that.
The list was this:
Go sky diving
Go hang gliding
Ride/drive a motorcycle
Go scuba diving
Get a tattoo
I don’t know why my 8-10 year old self wanted a tattoo. It’s not like they were a thing in the late 70’s/early 80’s but I always always always wanted one.
My first tattoo was at the age of 25. I had just been faced with a breast cancer scare and found out it was benign. It’s a small piece on my chest that hasn’t aged well. After that first prick of the tattoo needle, I was hooked. Being a single mom for years, I didn’t have a lot of opportunities for more ink, but that never stopped my dreaming. My next tattoo was at the age of 35, or 10 years later. It’s a much larger, geekier, and intricate piece and it did nothing to assuage the desire for more ink. My next piece was at the age of 45 (are we seeing a pattern or what) and it was the first “dealers choice” tattoo. It was by a Chicago artist that I had subtly been stalking. After that, I decided that I had plenty of bare skin and I wanted to cover it with art.
Sometimes I know what I want. Sometimes I let fate guide my hand (as I did in Dublin when I got Lemmy the Octopus on my arm.) There is one artist that I’ve been following for years. Her name is Kelly Doty. I had heard from her from a friend, but many people were introduced to her through Ink Masters where she came in Third place behind the first ever female winner of the competition Ryan Ashley Markley. Her style is considered New Skool and it’s a style that speaks to me on many levels.
After getting Lemmy, which was technically my 7th, I knew I wanted my next tattoo to be from Kelly. I filled out my request on her website and after a bit of back and forth with her assistant I was given a spot to get a delirium tattoo.
Delirium is one of my favorite characters from the Sandman comic by Neil Gaiman. These stories were a lifeline to me in many ways when I was a teenager. Even today, I will reread and visit with my old friends from time to time. Delirium always felt misunderstood, which is exactly how I felt (feel) most of the times. One of my favorite moments that has always stuck with me was this exchange:
“Delirium: “What’s the name of the word for the precise moment when you realize that you’ve actually forgotten how it felt to make love to somebody you really liked a long time ago?”
Dream: “There isn’t one.”
Delirium: “Oh. I thought maybe there was.”
Delirium was once delight but even delirium has forgotten why she changed.
Once my appointment with Kelly was made, I booked my hotel room and before booking my flight I invited my sister-from-another-mister Tonya to join me. She booked her flight connecting through Chicago and I met her on the plane. It all worked perfectly.
After landing in Boston, we picked up our rental car and headed up the coast to Salem, MA. Instead of taking the interstate, I of course took the scenic route taking us along the beach and through small towns. We of course had to stop and put our feet in the sand as soon as we could.
This last picture would perfectly encapsulate the next few days of our trip. Lots of silliness and laughter.
After we checked into our hotel we decided we needed drinks and seafood for dinner. This would become a theme for us over the next few days.
The next day dawned and I was a bundle of nerves. I didn’t know what my tattoo was going to look like but I knew it would be fabulous. We ate breakfast in the restaurant in our hotel and I opted for the salmon and crab cake benedict which was almost too pretty to eat.
After breakfast we did a bit of walking and stumbled into this resale shop that had these amazing dolls.
I apologize for the glare, but these were just amazing and I tried my best to get clear pictures. These were made by @KatCreepyCreations you can also follow her on facebook at Kat’s Creepy Creations.
After walking around it was finally time to head to the shop.
Helheim Gallery was everything I wanted it to be. Once I walked in I knew it was exactly where I was supposed to be. Meeting Kelly, the artist, was awesome and I really enjoyed her professionalism and her movie selection. Look, anyone who puts on Tank Girl for me while tattooing is going to have a huge piece of my heart forever.
So, after 9 hours and without further ado, I present Delirium.
I seriously couldn’t be happier with her. I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but after being a lurker of Kelly’s art for a while, I knew she would be spectacular and she truly is. I have several tattoos, but I’ve never been stopped as many times or had so many people comment on this one particular piece of art. I am truly humbled and honored to wear this piece and I truly hope that Kelly enjoyed her time with me and the the finished work.
It’s hard being a living piece of canvass. There are things you want to see, but you also want to be cognizant of an artists vision. While this isn’t simply a piece of art that’s hanging on a wall, but rather one that’s carved into your skin, it’s important to have the safety and space to work in conjunction with your artist to meet both of your needs.
The hardest thing about this tattoo is that it’s on my left arm. The arm that’s exposed to the most sunlight. The arm that is darker than the other and makes me feel like a bit of a freak. I’ve devised a system to ensure it stays awesome. This system is comprised of high SPF and a bandana to cover it in full sun. I love her so much that she’s forcing me to take care of myself. Wild!
After the tattoo, I surprised my lovely travel mate with a trip up the coast for lobsters in Maine. Ok, it wasn’t a complete surprise, but she didn’t really know what to expect.
The best thing about New England is that everything is relatively close to everything else. Coming from the the Midwest, it take HOURS to get to something cool from somewhere else cool. This really isn’t’ the case in New England. After a drive of little more than an hour we reached our next destination.
Our dinner before…
Despite my objections, Tonya demanded I wear the bib.
The next night, we had plans to take a Witch Walking Tour and while it was interesting, we were really hungry for Lobster Bisque so we left the tour early and headed to Turners Seafood.
Look, I’m not one of those people who gets overly emotional about their food, but I swear their lobster bisque brought me to tears. They of course had oysters and a lovely house gin drink, of which I had to sample. The ambiance was dark so the pictures really don’t do it justice.
If you ever have a chance to visit Salem, I highly recommend the trip. If you’re looking for an amazing piece of art to adorn your skin, give a shout out to any one of the artists at Helheim Gallery. While I have a piece by Kelly, I totally would love art by the other artists as well. These cats have it going on.
Thanks for reading my lovelies. Comment, share, and spread the love. Xoxo