yesterday i swallowed the third of my four live typhoid caplets for our trip to india next weekend. i have developed a sort of affection for the weakened bacteria i've been consuming: it feels unfair, this bolstering of my immune system with little microbes that can't fight back. i am not interested in illness as a memento, though i have accepted scars and the detritus of fair-to-middling infections, but i find in the hour between ingestion and a meal that i have tender feelings for my monocellular fellow-travelers. we saw california-based friends for drinks and snacks this evening and i found myself wondering if the little guys were getting what they needed. do you want mashed potatoes? how about macaroni and cheese? joe warns me that my habit of drinking tap water as i please will not fly when we are in delhi and goa, and i know he is right. i hit the drugstore like a ton of bricks the other day, and i have blister packs to address any if not all modern conditions (election angst? let me dig, i feel that i have a scorching antibiotic for that).

i have spent more on fripperies for my dear friends' overseas wedding than i did for my own—to be fair, i bought my dress for the latter at the mall—and i am looking forward to being a semi-granny at the sangeet, and the mehndi, and the final ceremony.*

on infection, i have been surprisingly conservative about the tattoo i acquired in rome a few weeks ago. it is the first one i can see, you see, as it is on my wrist (the others are all on my spine), and i am experiencing the healing process in a heretofore-unplumbed way. he swelled a bit in the first few days and i sent a panicked note to my artist—i've abandoned my boy!—but i have settled into acceptance. the cilia on his antennae might not have survived the jazz club in rome, or the colosseum and the palatine hill, or the fact that i sleep with my left hand beneath my pillow and write with it as if someone on the other side of the world might need to feel my pen's pressure in order to keep going, but this old body might need to acknowledge wear and tear, and that my choices leave marks. jeremy dennis—not his name, not necessarily, but the names my artist and joe gave him—might be the product of his experiences.

i don't want to make too much of the fact that my latest tattoo artist was my first female tattoo artist, but i would be lying if i said the experience didn't feel different. no previous artist has asked me to be sure to have a proper meal before my appointment, or to bring something to drink while i was being tattooed. we spoke for our three hours together about freelancing, and companion animals, and bodily autonomy, and i think we meant it when we hugged as we parted.

*i apparently kept reaching for golden girls-esque wedding outfits. THAT IS FOR AN AUNTIE, the shopkeeper said. YOU ARE YOUNG. i disagree, but i bought a crop top, god help me.

1 comment:

LPC said...

I can only aspire to attend an Indian wedding with a moth tattoo that commemorates a 40th birthday trip.

In my next life.

For now, agreed, do not drink the water, and do not eat raw food if you can help it. Otherwise I will force you to hear my story of dysentery in Calcutta again and again and it will not be fun.