Writing low

I wonder whether or not it is strange that the only time I seem to sit down to write anymore is during emotionally low times... 

I'm sure that it (writing) serves as some form of comfort, and is of course an outlet for the mind. That being said, it's probably not uncommon at all, but it is still concerning to me that the moments that seem to bring me back here the most are the harder times. 

This year has been an interesting one... a combination of adventure, growth, reflection, and sorrow. I guess that statement could honestly be made for any year, but this year, at least for me, has a more substantial pulse. There is a permanence about 2017 that refuses to go unnoticed and  I'm both excited and afraid for it to be over. Excited because I want to move on, to escape most of the events that have taken place, and continue pushing forward; and afraid because there is a part of me that wants to stop this perpetual forward motion, a part that wants to go back.

Back to 5... 6... 7 years ago. To when things seemed less complicated, even though they really weren't. To when I felt more connected, to myself and my loved ones. When will the past be the past? When will it feel less engaging than right now? When will I stop missing those days? I can't seem to let go of a lot of things, and this longing for who I used to be, what I valued, and how I lived seems to grow more intense the further I move away from those times. I thought by now I would have finished looking behind me.

Maybe it's just that I've put aside too many things (and people) that were important to me. When did I get so bad at keeping in touch? Have I forgotten how to be?  I know I have definitely neglected my outlets... and my creative side has been crammed into one tiny space. It is a space I love, but one that has left room for little else, and a small path of disregard in its wake. I miss my random projects, my affinity for crafting, my writing, my photography, my family, my friends... 

I think this all means that I need some introspective time; time to go back, before going forward... to reconnect with the girl I used to be so she can help me figure out where to go from here. 

-JAW

Coming and going

Time is an interesting thing, do you know that? You probably do. And at this point you may have even accepted it.

But me? I'm not sure, not yet anyway, how I feel about it.  

Time is my best friend, and my worst enemy; always on my side, never giving me enough (as if it couldn't get more cliché than that.) But in all seriousness, it really doesn't feel like there will ever be enough time anymore. Not like when I was younger and it seemed so infinite. It was something I would forever have; something SO abundant it couldn't possibly run out. When you're little you don't see further than a few years, anything beyond that is unfathomable and full of wonder. The older I get the less unimaginable it becomes, and the more I start to sound like my parents, and the parents before them. I've begun to register the impermanence of it all, and I am filled with an internal battle:

The desire to "make the most of it" vs. a lack of energy to do anything because I'm grieving the loss of my youthful naivety. 

Oh what I would give to be (insert your fondest age) again.  

Time... My ally and enemy. What is that called?  What is used to describe something like that? 

Is it a fairweather friend?  

No. Not really... because time still hangs around even when things are bad.

Is it ambiguous? No. Time can be good, and bad, and even neutral on occasion, but it is always definitive enough to avoid ambiguity. The same reasoning applies to why I wouldn't consider time to be a double edged sword. That verbiage sounds inherently negative, and, after all, time does give us some positive things. 

So what is it then, when something is good and bad? When something gives you hope and lets you down... ?

Sounds a lot like human nature.  

It's funny to me that we are all at times mercy, and yet we become her, in the end... 

I guess, when you really think about it, we were always time. From the beginning of our existence until the very end, we are a physical representation. Moving fast and slow. Aging the earth. Aging each other. Changing the world for the good, for the bad. Learning. Failing. Winning. Losing. Loving. Hurting. Dreaming. Dying. 

And always ending up where we started, from nothing, into nothing... All the while hoping that whatever things we do will at least make a little difference; that they will be remembered, for all the new times to come. 

-JAW

The Start of it all. The end of it all.

I knew a boy once, for over a decade; intimately at first, and then not so much as time passed. 

We met on one of the first widely accepted social media avenues: Myspace. In a sea of over processed photos and bio box blurbs we stood out to each other, and a silly reply to a question about his middle initial was the start of it all. 

"P=Paul. U=Hottie."  Smooth...

Eventually, the mutual attraction combined with carefully crafted online versions of ourselves led to our "actual" meeting.

It was the end of 2004.

We were 19.

Unfortunately most of this early history has been stricken from the record. Myspace essentially no longer exists, and gone with it are the emails and passwords, as well as the back up emails and phone numbers used to recover them. I do have journals. I have a LOT of journals. But my own memories were sabotaged by the same hand that wrote them down; ripped out and ruined, page by page, due to the aforementioned "not so intimate" time. 

There are bits and pieces, that for some reason, I saved. An entry on March 5, 2005 that states: "Note to self: Brandon = good friend, good kisser, BAD idea!"

Adventures through streets at 1am.

Late night picnics in garages.

Making up lame excuses to hang out. Like the one in April of that year... "it's raining, there's nothing to do outside, you should come over."

We were fast friends.

We spent days on end together, exploring cities, talking, writing, taking pictures. We were living in a perfect teenage bubble. In just a few months time, I would predictably ignore my own advice, and we'd begin dating.

It. Was. A. Ride.

I bet I could make the strongest of stomachs queasy with the ups and downs we had. We were young and passionate. We were becoming ourselves, fighting to learn who we were and how we fit in the world. We never really had concern for how we fit together. 

There were a lot of lows, followed almost immediately by the highest of extravagant highs. Destructive fights, coupled with romantic gestures. Slamming doors, that would in turn be opened to presents. Crying ourselves to sleep, and digging hearts into sides of mountains... literally. Inevitably though, the highs visited less often. Our bodies grew wary, and in March 2007 he moved out of town. 

In most situations this would have been the end. We would've congratulated each other for trying, admitting defeat graciously, and agreed that we just weren't meant to be. We would have gotten OFF the proverbial ride. 

But this, this was our twenties. 

We were adrenaline junkies... or more appropriately, drama junkies. Whenever there was a lull in our lives, whether it was a new breakup, a lonely summer, a fight with a friend, a sad song, or a few too many cocktails, one of us would reach out. There were times of despair as well, where we leaned too heavily on each other, even though it wasn't fair. When my mom passed in 2008, Brandon was one of the first to know. He cast aside a lot of his own emotions in order to be helpful to me. He was in pain too, but he put my heartache ahead of his own, and offered himself as a beacon of light during my darkest times. And then, finally, he let it hit him too; the fact that she was gone. Brandon loved my mom, and she loved him, completely and unconditionally. He was always her favorite. When she got sick she would talk about him, ask about him and how he was doing. She forgave every horrible thing that we had done to one another; she just wanted to make sure he knew she still loved him. And so, he and I suffered together, trying endlessly to pull each other up, to remember the golden moments with her, and to help each other heal. But soon it became too much to ask. The amount of support we had stacked upon each other, it was unfair. Unfair to everyone else around us, and ourselves... after all, we weren't together. 

Yet, even still, we tethered ourselves to that roller coaster. Unable to really let go, still checking up on each other when things were low. And, to truly admit defeat, for the sake of honesty here, there were times we would reach out even when nothing was wrong... risking whatever good thing we had going on for a conversation. Sometimes we would throw blame and argue, sometimes we would cry, other times we would just catch up. A few times we met up in person, igniting little sparks. We began to think once again that we could survive on the tiniest embers. The worst part, I think, is that we didn't really want to try. We were emotionally unavailable, distrusting. and angry. When one of us was willing, the other was dismissive. Both of us were looking for things that neither of us could give, all the while tormenting each other with possibility. 

It was hard.

But despite all the bad, our opinions of each other never faltered. We may have had unfavorable things to say at times, but in the end we still believed in one another; we were good people, making bad decisions. All of the shitty things we did were excusable in our eyes, because we were inexperienced, holding grudges, and heartbroken. 

And because we never had a chance for closure.

The last conversation I had with Brandon was on July 25, 2017. It was the kind of conversation that people hope to have when there are unresolved issues in their lives. The kind where you both say you're sorry, and that you hope each other is doing well. The kind where you walk away feeling as though you can finally be happy for one another.

And there it was. 

Closure. 

Hindsight is 20/20, but these past couple of weeks have felt like a magnifying glass on the last 12 years. I know that the guilt and sadness will subside; that the microscope under which I can feel all of our history so clearly, will fuzz a little bit, and things will start to get easier. But I will never live down not saying sorry sooner. I spent so many years shrouded in anger, when I should have just let it go. Those feelings of resentment clouded my vision and I couldn't see past them to move on and say what needed to be said. The truth is, we really were happy for each other. We wanted nothing but the best for one another the whole time, but we hid it from each other for far too long. And even though we did eventually say sorry, these are the times we can never get back.

Brandon left this world on July 26, 2017, exactly 9 years to the day after my Mother.

He was adventurous, intelligent, artistic ... and sometimes he was a little bit of an ass, as we all tend to be in our younger years. Most importantly though, he was a dreamer. Unfailingly passionate, romantic, and optimistic about what we as individuals have to offer, what we can accomplish. He pushed those around him to dream deeper, to realize their potential, and to make a mark on the world.

"It’s the footprint," he once said. "You want to make sure when you leave this planet, the mark left in your place is distinguishable from all the rest. It might not be as great as some. It might not be larger... but it’s not the size, it’s the shape. It’s the identity."

I can say with confidence that he left a significant mark. And even in this sorrowful time, there's comfort that comes from knowing this. His footprint is recognized over thousands of miles, and felt in countless hearts. For good or bad, we were lucky to have known him.

I only hope that wherever he is, he can feel that. And it brings a smile to his face, and eases his soul.

Happy Birthday Brandon.

Rest In Peace. 

-JAW

Blast from the Past

Another thing that I have left behind for far too long is photography.

It's difficult, when you are an artist who works primarily on commissioned designs, to find time to do things for yourself. With the amount of drawing I do for my clients, other artistic avenues, like for example painting, have been hard for me to commit to.

It's not at all that I don't enjoy tattooing; I feel very lucky to be in a position where I can be artistically fulfilled on a regular basis. But still, there are times where I feel the need for a personal project.

Painting isn't something that I've ever really had an intrinsic interest in. I know that may seem crazy considering that, somewhere along the line, tattooing and painting really started going hand in hand. I personally know very few tattoo artists who don't paint. I mean, they at least watercolor!

Am I weird? 

I mean, yes, I'm weird... but I don't think I'm weird in that sense.

I tend to be fairly hard on myself, as most artists do, about the quality of my work, and how well I feel I can accomplish something. I've spent the last seven years dedicated to tattooing and thankfully, I have reached a point where I feel confident in my abilities to continue to explore, grow, and learn new things in this field. Every time I sit down to paint, on the other hand, I am completely useless. I have no idea what I am doing, and this avenue that so many people tell me is supposed to be relaxing, instead makes me feel insane. I know, I know... it's part of the process. But I don't like it, haha. I just don't. And I'm not ready to spend energy on something that makes me so frustrated. 

Enter in: Photography. 

It's something that I have a history with, that I used to really enjoy, and while I might be a little rusty after 7 years, it doesn't make me feel useless. It's something personal that I can do for myself, and if other people enjoy it, that's an added perk. 

So for anyone who's interested, there's some photos I took floating around on Instagram, but don't worry, I'm not quitting tattooing. :)

-JAW

 

Hello, old friend

I haven’t used this blog in quite some time. Actually, according to my last and only post left, it has been almost exactly one year. 

There used to be a lot of things on here… 

I guess somewhere along the line, during the process of developing my tattoo career, I decided that my personal interests shouldn’t be online? I can’t say for sure. But I do know that a lot has happened in my life over the past several months, and I’ve begun to realize that a lot of the things that I lost touch with were actually very cathartic for me. I used to write, and take photos, and feel less weighed down. 

So I’m coming back. 

I don’t really know how often I’ll be able to keep up with it, but I’ll try; because I know it’s good for me, and some things shouldn’t be left unsaid. 

-JAW