Yesterday, I was walking down the street with my poet friend Jenny, and we stopped at a tattoo parlor. I have been wanting another for a while, and wanted to talk about dates and prices and feasibility.
An hour later, I had a tattoo. I suppose it's fitting that I just...got it. That I walked in and came out a brief period of time later with permanent ink etched into my skin.
It reads "tender is the night," which the tattoo artist thought was some allusion to a Blur song, but in actuality is the title of my favorite F. Scott Fitzgerald book, and a line from the poem "Ode to a Nightingale" by John Keats. It's about vulnerability. It's about the ephemeral, which is hilarious, because it's one of three indelibly permanent things in my life.
Everybody has a weakness. Mine is a sucker punch to the gut or a compliment on my cooking. Fitzgerald's was a good martini and Zelda. Keats' was opium and feelings ("Oh for a life of feeling rather than thought!"). Remembering that we, as the night, are weak and tender and fallible, is what keeps us humble, what keeps us human.
Chelsea says that now that I have a literary tattoo, I need to get my PhD, otherwise I'll just be a dork with a nerdy literary tattoo. I think that I might still be just a dork with a nerdy literary tattoo once I have my PhD. I'll just have a fancy graduation gown too.
Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
Cluster'd around by all her starry Fays;
But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.