The needles raze my skin with venomous bites. He wipes the excess ink with a cool gel. “You’re not a bleeder,” Horishin laughs. “I guess not? Is that bad?” It’s late. Late into the early morning. At this point, I have lost sensation in my arm. The process has become rather painless. The humming needles rake across my flesh in a wake of color. There it is this time. My blood blossoms in fields, across the peony petals: red atop a crown gold. I’m inspired by Horishin, his attention unwavering as he deftly moves from one petal to the other. Perhaps in a fit of hysteria, I laugh. “This is cool. Normally I’d just be doing what I do every night. But tonight I’m hanging out with you, in this spot, getting tattooed.” He smiles beneath his mask. We’re both tired, but it just shows how masterclass this guy was. He was absolutely focused to the point I was thinking shit man that part of my arm hurts but you’re still shading it. I want that for my writing –that obsession, that absolute possession. “Karajishi”, he tells me. “The Fu Dog is the king of animals, and the peony is the king of flowers. They usually go together.” I didn’t ask for the peony, but I’m happy he included it! Two my heroes have peony tattoos: Neistat and Bourdain. We hug after the session; getting tattooed is always a strange bonding ritual. It wasn’t what I expected my tattoo to look like, but I’m learning hardly any of my expectations ever manifest fully as I envisioned them. Life offers better alternatives, I suppose, and there’s a degree of excitement and surprise to that. As I write this, I’m operating on an hour’s sleep. But how wonderful is it that I can stray from the normal, the mundane, and experience something so different, something so painful, beautiful yet earned.
Oh yeah every song that played reminded me of you; it was all the love songs from our parent’s generation. I used to hate them, but I get those feelings now haha. Or maybe I’m just fucking tired. I hope you’re doing all right –the prayers go the same: I hope you become wise enough to protect yourself. I hope you become brave enough to pursue your goals. And I hope you become strong enough to find happiness.