Jordan proposed on the morning of Saturday, December 17, 2016 amidst the cat condo and stray socks in the living room of his one-bedroom apartment. As he sautéed sweet potatoes for a breakfast hash, he asked me to sort through a pile of postcards on the coffee table—four of his own design—that read simply, “will you marry me?”
In 9th grade, I wrote a love letter to a boy. I imagine it was entirely dramatic—depicting my teenage longing and the color of his eyes with gag-inducing metaphors—but genuinely heartfelt, and honest nonetheless. And while I tried my hardest to emulate the letter-writing greats, like Oscar Wilde and John Keats, my letter read like a scene from Degrassi with the raw emotion of a Dashboard Confessional hit.
If there is one thing our parents raised us to be, it’s honest people. Growing up, we were given the space and the freedom to make our own mistakes with the expectation that no matter the grandeur of our follies, we would clean up our messes with a little grace, and a lot of truth. Liars were not welcome at our kitchen table.
I met him in a room filled with words handwritten by the lonely and the suffering, unaware that eventually, I’d thread him through my own pages, weaving the fabric of my volumes with our memories. I couldn’t have recognized the foreshadowing.
At 14, having barely breached teenagehood, I’d never been in love. Then a Chocolate Lab stole my heart.
Six weeks ago, I was inked.
After dizzying myself with concept-crafting, note-taking, researching artists, perusing portfolios, and coming to terms with having my body permanently marked, I offered myself as a human canvas for my blooming heart.
As a uniquely named child, I lost when it came to one of life’s cheaper thrills; monogrammed heart keychains. Dig as I may through the spinning tower of trinkets, I knew I’d never find a “Vicari” among the sea of abundant “Veronicas” and “Victorias.” I never wished for a re-name, but as a tiny, fashion-forward human, a sister just wanted a sparkly Vicari-heart dangling from her backpack. So I often settled for my first initial etched onto some cheap piece of nothing.
Since my breach of adulthood, I’ve surprised my peers with my lack of ink. Maybe they saw my nose ring as a precursor for something more daring. Perhaps a tattoo was expected because of my, er, free-spirited nature. Maybe because, as an artist, it made sense to have something as creative as my brain displayed on my body. Or perhaps it’s my affinity for the bold. Whatever the reason, it surprised them.