I don’t have any tattoos, but I plan to get at least one eventually. The problem is that I can’t commit to what I want. It’s a pretty permanent decision. I don’t want to be in a knitting group when I’m eighty and have someone ask about the saggy hibiscus on my shoulder, where I would then sigh and say, “Okay…so this one really stupid time when I was 19…” Then I would have to relay a dumb story for the millionth time, and I would also hopefully wonder why I’m eighty and wearing a tank top. This is the situation I am trying to avoid.
Anyway, I want the tattoo to have some sort of significance, and I want to know I’ll like it in the long term. I’ve made a pact with myself: when I want the same tattoo for a full year, I’ll get it. I made that decision when I was in college, and I’ve yet to want the same one for a year. I always eventually change my mind. Hence I am still tattoo-less. Au natural. Somewhat boring.
TODAY I am officially declaring Day 1 on wanting the tattoo I just discovered. On May 18, 2017, if I still want it, I’ll get it. Maybe this is “the one.”
*side note* I decided after two months of dating that I wanted to marry the man who became my husband, and we’ll be celebrating ten years together this fall. It takes me longer to commit to a tattoo than to a man. I’m not sure what this says about me.
The tattoo I want is a semicolon.
Yes, the punctuation mark. That’s the tattoo I want. A small punctuation mark, probably on my ankle.
Stop judging me. I can feel your judgement radiating through my screen. HEAR ME OUT, OKAY?!
First of all, something you should know about me: I love the semicolon. It’s my favorite punctuation mark. I’m an English teacher, so I do weird things like have a favorite punctuation mark. You’re allowed to judge me for that one. Anyway, I received a letter a while back from a student I had three years ago, and she put in the letter, “Did you notice I used a semicolon correctly? I know how much you love semicolons!” I spoke at a symposium with a team of teachers last year, and one of them actually put a semicolon in our presentation specifically because, “Hillboro loves semicolons, so let’s throw one in there.” I don’t talk about them all the time. I’m not sure why everyone knows this about me. Maybe it’s just that when you hear a person has a favorite punctuation mark, you remember that type of quirk.
Here’s the thing about semicolons: they are very underrated. People almost never use them. Commas get all the attention. Teachers are all, “COMMAS! COMMAS! COMMAS!” and then there’s the sad little semicolon over in the corner, waiting to jump into the middle of a sentence, living in the shadow of the stupid comma. Half the students can’t even draw a semicolon at the beginning of the year when I ask them if they know what it is. There aren’t many uses for it. I picture the comma and semicolon as family members, but the comma is the one with all of the achievements and accolades. It’s the super talented one. The semicolon goes to family reunions like, “But hey, I’m really, really good at the two things I can do!” No one cares because they all just want their picture taken with the comma. It’s a sad story.
Anyway, I’ve always had a soft spot for semicolons, and I guarantee no one leaves my classroom at the end of the year without knowing how to use them properly. I have lots of respect for people who use semicolons correctly, because so few ever do. It’s like using a semicolon correctly puts you into a secret club of highly successful punctuation users. We should name the club. It would probably be called “nerds.”
A few days ago, I stumbled upon this quote on the internet:
I find this to be quite profound. A semicolon is used when a period could have ended the sentence, but there is more to say. A whole separate independent clause is going to come after it. This made me think of my suicide attempt this past fall. It’s like I put a period on my life – I said it was over. Then God grabbed the pen out of my hand and was like, “Ummm…absolutely NOT! You messed that up, but I’m going to change that period to a semicolon and make you keep writing. This story is not over.” One clause ended, but another one was just starting. This is a grammar AND punctuation metaphor, so I’m oddly in love with it.
It’s weird to be alive when I tried to die. It makes me feel like each day I live now is part of a second chance that I didn’t deserve to have. I realize that no one should take any days for granted and that we should all live each day to the fullest, but it’s eerie to consider how close I came to ending things. These words I’m currently typing would never have been written. I have the rest of my life – however long that is – to find out how to spend this second chance. I’m thankful for that undeserved opportunity; I’m thankful that this fall was only a semicolon.