I didn’t tell many people in advance what I planned to get. Everyone likes to share an opinion and since it took 33 years to 1) decide on a design and 2) go for it, I no longer wanted to hem and haw.
So yes, I got the Golden Gate Bridge tattooed on my left shoulder. And yes, the GGB symbolizes a LOT more than just a pretty bridge. To almost anyone in the modern world, it symbolizes San Francisco. To me, San Francisco symbolizes so much more.
As you know, I love me some goals. Moving to San Francisco realized a goal I held from age 10. When I turned 31 I finally did it. This tattoo reminds me of achieving that goal. It reminds me that no matter how “stuck” in your life you may feel, how much you think you just have to resign to the way things are, with a lot of hard work and determination you can get out of it. You can follow your dreams. And sometimes when your dreams become reality, they’re even better than expected. This city attracts poets and dreamers who are doers. They waited for me with open arms.
My “honeymoon” with San Francisco waned a bit in 2013. The first part of the year, as I mentioned a place or two recently, really sucked. Sprinkled throughout the year several challenges came my way. Sociopolitically tensions rise each day in the city because of the current boom, disparity of wealth, density of residents. But at the end of the day, I love this city more than I can even describe. I walk to the top of a hill, take in a vista, and it takes my breath away. I finish my Saturday hike and pass a middle-aged, normally-dressed man playing his pan flute at the trailhead and smile. I spot Karl the Fog winding his way over Twin Peaks and I curse, but also feel right with the world.
Fittingly, yesterday we got back in the swing of our San Francisco Stairway Walks, selecting the Russian Hill North route. At George Sterling Park, Adah Bakalinsky advises turning around and taking in a view of the Golden Gate. Ascending the stairs to said view, there stands a plaque honoring Mr. Sterling, engraved with the last six lines of his poem, The Cool, Grey City of Love:
Tho the dark be cold and blind,
Yet her sea-fog’s touch is kind,
And her mightier caress
Is joy and the pain thereof;
And great is thy tenderness,
O cool, grey city of love!
I knew for sure reading that, then taking in the view, that I made the right decision.
So no, I’m not getting Milwaukee’s Hoan Bridge tattooed on my right, as I swear my Wisconsin friends are about to start a Change.org petition for me to do. As much as I will always love Milwaukee and recognize its role in my formative years and Packers fandom, I also recognize that I moved on. I’ll still talk up its good qualities and encourage people to check it out, but I ask you this: would you get your ex’s name tattooed on your arm?
Finally, I wish the symbolism for my left shoulder was as cool as my friend Catherine speculated on Facebook:
I hope your tat story has something to do with when Wisconsin went right, Meghan went left, and voila, GGB is on your left shoulder. Lean left, sister.
Nope, that kind of just where I felt it should go.