I know plenty of people with tattoos. Here in Portland, all the cool kids have them. It’s probably a good time to remind the readers at home that I am not now, nor have I ever been, one of the cool kids. There are many, many tattoos that look cool, but inking myself permanently sounds like a bad idea, and one that I’m not likely to make while sober. My favorite ones are the Japanese or Chinese characters that girls are convinced mean something like justice or purity, though they have never, ever fact checked their research. I rather like the idea of a tattoo artist finding beautiful characters that might not mean what they tell people they mean.
Average Joe recently posted a great article about decluttering his closet, and how, because he itemizes his deductions, donating this month was a good thing for his taxes (and the good people of Texarkana). Donating clothes to charity feels good. You can pat yourself on the back, knowing that you didn’t contribute to landfills, and that someone less fortunate (or more frugal!) can buy your used clothes at a charity shop.
But it got me thinking.
What it means to get multiple tattoos
Do you know anyone who has only one tattoo? I certainly don’t.* There’s a phenomenon with tattoos (or tats, as the cool kids call them). A person spends a long time thinking about their first tat. They look through the artist’s books. They research Chinese calligraphy (or they should!). They think about place. Wrist, foot, ankle, shoulder, bicep, top of back, tramp stamp area, etc. They pick a shop. Sometimes this is easy, and most of the time it is not. You have to rely on word of mouth.
Fun story: on my best friend’s 18th birthday, we went to get her a tattoo. She wanted four flowers on the small of her back. She drew the art herself, and got a recommendation from a tattoo guy in town. We walked in for her appointment, and the guy said to her, “now, bend over, like we’re on our first date.” It was the most colorful thing I’d ever heard a stranger say in my presence.I swear, I grew up on the set of “Leave it to Beaver” or something.
Anyway, my friend got her tat, and was all of a sudden one of the cool kids. I was a little jealous, I won’t lie. But I was fascinated by what happened next. Right away, she started saving for her next tattoo! She now has four, I think, and they’re very cool. I’m not sure she has plans for more, since she is rather busy being a brand new mommy (congratulations, Emily!), but once she got her first one, she was compelled to get more.
Eliminating clutter is similar
When I started my path toward simplicity, I was moving across town. Moving is a natural time to go through your stuff and make sure you don’t move things you don’t really use. Then, once I settled in to my new place, I realized I had more to do. More to unpack. More stuff than I wanted.
And so it started. Oh, it was all very innocent at first. A drawer here, a purse there. But soon, it spiraled. When my long-distance relationship ended in September, I went through my entire apartment, removing vestiges of the boy who wouldn’t be back. After I got back home, I re-christened the “boy drawer” in my dresser as a drawer for all of my camera’s accessories. The camera accessorizes more than I do, and it needs its own drawer.
I can’t stop. Every time I go to Goodwill to go shopping, I bring a full bag to donate. Every other time I hang laundry, I go through my “closet” (really a bar across my bedroom) with a scrutinizing eye.
It’s habit-forming, I tell you. Just like the person who has a full sleeve of tattoos, I will probably never be done with my mission. Right now, by my front door, I have a grocery bag full of clothes ready to donate, as well as a grocery bag full of that fancy glass food storage with the locking lids. Those are going back to my mom, since she’s sent me home with food for a long time and I haven’t been giving the containers back.
I’m not the most organized person you’ll ever meet, nor is my house the cleanest on the block.
But, boy do I love paring down my stuff. I may not ever be like Kerry, with her tiny wardrobe in London, but I do know that by making space, I’m letting in room for peace.
*That’s not entirely true. I have a friend who has a tattoo in his armpit, of an anchor. All of his buddies in college have the same one. It’s smaller than a dime. And his wasn’t a sober decision. Also it detracts from the very important point I was trying to make.