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My Third Tattoo

  Photo courtesy of  KMW Photography

Photo courtesy of KMW Photography

My third tattoo was my first cover up, but not because I didn't like the tattoo of my initials anymore. I don't entertain regret often, but when I do it's never over my tattoos.

When Mat and I announced our engagement, I was a little unsure of becoming a von Ehrenkrook. I mean, von Ehrenkrook. It's a mouthful waiting to be misspelled and mispronounced; and it is, all the time. I halfheartedly tried to convince Mat that he should take my last name: Gurley. Six letters! 

I may write von Ehrenkrook, but I'll always be a Gurley. Although, to be honest, it can be difficult to attach myself to either surname. I've wondered about legally changing my name to something else, something of my choosing.

I could disappear.

My only "Christian" tattoo.

Perusing our wedding photos, my scripty initials taunted me. They begged to be covered up. In my head, marriage seemed to discredit their validity. Two months into our marriage, Mat was hired by a church. I went to sleep the night he was hired with a mix of excitement for him and a hint of dread. But I didn't notice it. Or maybe I did and I outright ignored it. Something was, essentially, being done to me. In a day, because of my husband's career choice, I silently forfeited control of my life; I sacrificed myself for a different version of me. 

I wish I'd had the sense to grieve my imminent death and the courage to tell the truth: that I didn't want to be a pastor's wife. Learning what it meant to be a wife was enough for me. But I woke up the next morning with a dream-induced determination to embrace it as best I could. And for a while, I think it actually seemed as if I enjoyed being a pastor's wife. I survived using the lessons from my youth, as a pastor's daughter. I knew then how to be someone else when required, so I reverted easily; and I got caught up in it, I got lost along the way. It's not something I'm proud of.

“You know, I thought that someone would notice
I thought somebody would say something
if I was missing...
Well, can’t you see me?”
— Counting Crows, Have You Seen Me Lately?

Change is the only constant, right? But when change happens abruptly, I've been known to respond by doing something drastic to myself. I cut and color my hair, or I shop for things that would assist in altering my appearance; I get new glasses, I get tattooed. It's all about control. And when I look in the mirror, I want to like my new reflection. I want it to feel like I've added a new layer of skin to my body; it's obvious to a select few but it helps me hide in plain sight. I've mastered stuffing things away.

I decided my cover up would be my new initials, minus the middle 'd'. Fittingly, EvE. As in Adam and... 

Cover ups can be difficult and some artists won't even bother. To effectively mask the EDG between my shoulder blades, I chose an apple (representative of the Garden of Eden) and placed EvE underneath.

Being the largest tattoo I had at the time, and it's not very big at all, I had several moments after getting it where I doubted what I had done. It wasn't regret, because I didn't hate it. The apple just seemed... lonely. Kind of how I was feeling myself, as a new pastor's wife. At 25, I solidified that my dream of being a heavily tattooed woman would become reality.

The apple needed some tattooed friends. To be continued...

Tattoo Shop: Spidermonkey in Olympia, Washington
Artist: Unknown

When Dreams Die

I'm an alien.