In April of last year, on her 18th birthday, Alyssa got “Die Welt ist Schön” tattooed on her foot by Sue at Regeneration in Allston, MA. This is the title of Albert Renger-Patzsch‘s second collection of photography which focuses on the beauty found in the ordinary.
I hoped that it would serve as a reminder to myself to continue to see the beauty in the world even when I ceased to be so happy. Two months went by, my life spiraled out of control, and my tattoo faded almost completely away. In early July I had an abortion. The next day I went with a friend to Skin Graff Tattoo in Worcester, MA to sit with her while she got her half sleeve done. The guys at the shop joked about the chicken scratch tattoo on my foot and asked when I’d get it redone and I’d joke back, “oh, I’ll do it when I have money” but I had no real intention of ever fixing it. To me it meant something that the words which I had loved so dearly for years were literally disappearing as I spiraled downward.
Then, Ja Woek called me over to the bench he had set up, which I thought was for someone else, and he completely re-did my tattoo, effectively giving me a cover up. “I didn’t say anything about money,” he smiled.
He reminded me of what I had loved so much about the words. The day after one of the most traumatizing experience of my life came one of the best. Now when I look down, the words have a history that goes beyond what I ever thought they would.
I think this also illustrates just how far a little bit of kindness goes, and how much small, symbolic acts can profoundly affect a person’s life.