How nice to have friends who are always honest and say exactly what they think. It’s precisely this trait of my Berliner friend, Madhavi, which has probably spared me a lifetime of grief. But now, from the beginning.
A promise over the clouds of Los Angeles
On Thursday evening, I thought it’s now about time for my tattoo, something I’d promised myself since Los Angeles. For years, I’d avoided extremely long flights as I thought I wouldn’t survive them. Since the transatlantic flight to California, my personal coordinate system has changed. The eleven-hour flight with my daughter Lou was a breeze. I stocked up on books, podcasts, playlists, virtual brainteasers, yep, even crossword puzzles. Above the clouds, I made the decision to tattoo the word “brave” on my arm in LA. To behold as a daily mantra that nothing is impossible and that I myself shape the course of my life. Waiting lists for an appointment in a good tattoo studio in LA are incredibly long, furthermore I would’ve had to stay away from the sun and sea.
Going through Tel Aviv’s tattoo studios with Madhavi
My friend Madhavi, the wonderful author of the yoga and meditation blog Kaerlighed is currently visiting me. With her moral support, I contact four tattoo studios via Instagram requesting an appointment soon. Only Ink Donkey, which had been recommended to me on various occasions for my Blogpost on TLV’s tattoo scene, answered. We whizzed to Frenkel Street in Florentine the following morning on our bikes.
Stoned hipsters in front of the Tattoo shop
Stoned bearded hipsters lounged on a park bench in front of the store. The place smelled unpleasantly musty, like old cookies, and probably hadn’t been aired yet this year. The owner showed me fonts on a computer, when behind him, a massive, meaty guy appeared who turned out to be my tattoo artist. I was so perplexed and petrified that I didn’t react at all. Thank God, Madhavi was still a woman true to her senses: she grabbed my backpack, along with mobile phone and bike battery and hurled no more than a phrase at me: we have to get out of here immediately. Without thinking about it, I mumbled to the owner that I quickly had to get back to the car. We fled, goose-step style.
Withered mint leaves in the garden-tea at the kiosk
Several tattoo studios line up along Frenkel Street. Ink me Baby had already appealed to us on the way there. I asked whether there was still a free appointment for my little “brave” tattoo. We should return in half an hour, which we spent at an Espresso Kiosk across the street. Me with a bottle of soda, Madhavi with a tea with fresh herbs from the garden. Haha. Turned out to be a withered mint leaf and two wooden stalks, which was probably called lemongrass in an earlier life. Strengthened from the tea and soda, we set off for the appointment.
Breathing exercises on the tattoo table
Eddy, my tattoo artist, is young, wears a mala around his neck and speaks with a clear voice. Together, we decide on a calligraphic font. Eddy prepares all the tools and then it gets serious. I lie on the table, extend my arm like during blood sampling and succumb to Eddy’s calm hands. I just think, what a relief I’m not lying ten meters away under the needle at the stoned hipster. The procedure’s quick but not entirely painless. I grit my teeth and do breathing exercises from my morning meditation. Then I hear Eddy’s voice, as if through a cloud, whispering that I can get up. Too sudden, as it turns out, I’m dizzy.
Feels like my tattoo’s been on my arm forever
Madhavi sits on the couch outside, patiently dreaming for hours of our lunch at the plant- based eatery Bana. Poof, shattered dream: Bana only opens in the evening. Standing shakily on my feet, we leave the bikes, order a cab, quickly stop by our place Urban Shaman, for some food, which we shamelessly guzzle in the cab. Home at last, I sink onto the couch, eyes lowered to my tattoo, which feels like it’s always been there.
english translation: Catherine Bradshaw