The Medieval feel of this picture is striking to me–dark, intimidating, a hint of mystery–something disturbing is happening, no doubt.  Fear must have filled that room with a sickly, cold, metallic taste, like an old penny on your tongue.  Alright, alright, I’m dramatizing.  In truth, it was a very happy moment, and that room was filled with laughter and jokes during a quick procedure in which a friend of mine got a dermal anchor inserted in her neck.

Willingly taking a foreign object into your flesh, scarring your skin, injuring it over and over in the same spot, just to make a permanent mark, something we will carry with us and remember always.  Yet when we are changed so drastically against our wills, things fall apart.  We resent it.  Sometimes, we wish we could permanently remove it from our lives.  However, as with many forms of body modification, this is easier said than done.

The picture was taken in Austin for the ritual.   A city like Austin is a good compliment to Dallas…it serves as a kind of respite from the speed and the urgency by providing opportunities for connections to the natural world, and what I can only describe (from my own experiences, of course) as ’spirit walking’–following your spirit to wherever it leads you, and gaining invaluable insight from the journey.  Don’t worry…I’m going to stop now, before I get too pretentious…in any event, one of my close companions made it along for the trip, days after going through a horrible, agonizing break-up that was the result of a horrible, agonizing relationship.  The relief was palpable, but the damage done, the scars?  They will always be with her.  Going to Austin offered the chance for a salve.

We spent the evening downtown, stopping off at a favorite little bar/coffee house of mine for chips and salsa as well as a few Lonestar beers.  After drinking in the great atmosphere and art, we headed to a sushi restaurant and met up with old friends and made some new ones.  It was a nice dinner, filled with great food and great conversation.

Lately Austin has evoked mixed feelings in me; it reminds me of fun times, great music, beautiful friendships sparked.  But it also reminds me of personal loss, relationships that couldn’t bear the strain of what?  Life, I suppose.  I carry that with me everywhere I go, but I suppose some days it’s more obvious to me than others.  Like fingering a cold, metal stud on the back of your neck, almost unaware of it the entire day and then suddenly so intensely aware of its presence.

The dermal anchor procedure took place after dinner; the decision to get it that night was mostly spur of the moment, and more time was spent waiting than anything else.  It was the artist who did the work that was the most intriguing part to me.  He was a walking canvass.  Whatever each piercing on his face meant, each tribal symbol on his arms, all of it–it was immortalized on him.  Every moment physically etched on the canvass of his flesh.  He was the tangible manifestation of my psyche: a road map, everything laid out in patterns and there staring back at me when I turn the mirror on myself.  Some of those things, I cherish.  Some, I regret with all my heart.

We all left Austin essentially the same as how we were when we went there, all arms and legs and digits safely in their original places.  One of us had a piece of metal in her neck, though.  We all knew it, but halfway through the drive home, we’d grown accustomed to it; it would always be there and that was that.  Does the same holds true for the emotional scars we bear, though?  I often wonder, when we catch a glimpse in the mirror and spot that brand, that agonizing moment that has been burned into us for the past three years, should there be silent resignation?  Or should we run to the nearest solution, whatever extreme measure we think my remove the pain from us like a laser on a tattoo?  Or finally, should we embrace each scar and mark as a part of us; we came into this world a blank canvass, but the marks over the years are what shaped us into who we are.  Why not celebrate our survival, and use the memory as a reminder?

What do you think?