Based on a True Sweater

May 13, 2008

My Moth

My Moth

I posted a photo of my moth tattoo on Flickr the other day, but didn't post the story behind it. It's rather a long story, and I feel self-consciously sentimental telling it in person, and I don't think I've committed it to writing before... I suppose it's time.

I've hated bugs since I was a kid, so much so that through my adolescence I avoided going outside much in the warm months. I think I've ridden a bike only once since I was about 15, because the prospect of riding through a swarm of gnats freaked me out to the point that all the pleasure of bike riding was lost. It was getting worse as I became an adult.

I started dating Zak when I was 21, and the month I turned 22, Zak and I moved out of pur parents' homes, into a shitty little basement-level apartment. This apartment was, unfortunately, not hermetically sealed against insect life. I used to get really freaked out when we found bugs in our place. I was having some really limiting health problems at the time, which were causing me a lot of stress; finding a spider or wasp would kind of send me over the edge into a fit of despair.

Zak was the kid who would turn over rocks and be delighted with what he found underneath. He had sets of nature encyclopedias bought from library sale tables, with which he was intimately familiar. He thought my phobia was unreasonable (true), and he was very distressed about my unhappiness. He refused to kill anything we found. Instead, he would put the creature in a jar and make me look at it. He would point out its various tiny features and tell me all about how interesting and wonderful it was.

Zak may be the kindest person I have ever met. He is certainly the most charming, at least in my eyes. Hearing about these insects from his point of view affected me deeply, and soon I did lose my fear of them (at least, most of the time). I remember reading in a park near our shitty apartment that first summer, and watching a fly clean its legs on the page of my book. It was a huge change for me.

One night we were at a friend's apartment nearby, and came home late. We were standing outside the door of our building, and moths were fluttering around the light. I really hated moths; I thought they were creepy, ghostly, horrible things. Zak looked so crestfallen when I said so. I wish I could remember exactly what he said, but when he explained them as he saw them, how beautiful and harmless and delicate they are, I melted into a little puddle on the step. Now I can't even summon the ghost of how I felt about moths before he changed my understanding of them; my shift in perception was so complete.

He's affected many aspects of my life in this way. I relate differently to other people and to myself, and to the world I live in. I am a kinder, happier, more generous and optimistic person since I met him. Aside from being born into the family I have, meeting him is the best thing that's ever happened to me. We've been together over 11 years now and I am still amazed and grateful to have him in my life, both as a friend and as my love.

The moth on my arm is the tangible symbol of the amazing new world I have lived in since I met Zak. It's a gentler and more beautiful place than I had guessed it could be.


At 10:18 p.m., Blogger Karen said...

Beautiful story. Almost makes me think about bugs in a new way..almost :)

At 5:47 a.m., Blogger libby said...

this is one of the most sincere love tributes i've ever read on the interweb. the simplicity of your storytelling is breathtaking.

At 10:51 a.m., Blogger jodi said...

This is beautiful. Thank you for telling us.


At 12:26 p.m., Blogger Linda said...

I love your story. Thank you for sharing.

At 5:46 p.m., Anonymous Rachael Ashe said...

And this is why Zak rocks! I love this story.

Your description of melting into a puddle on the step made me laugh out loud.

At 11:12 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

beautiful post mandy... it truly is amazing when our perceptions change when we see something through someone else's eyes.

At 1:40 p.m., Blogger Maxly said...

Wow. Your story brought a lump to my throat.

You are a fortunate woman.

At 11:25 a.m., Blogger Gina said...

You almost made me cry :)

At 9:14 a.m., Anonymous Ande said...

I always knew Zak was special!
So beautiful!

At 3:03 p.m., Blogger Deb said...

And no greater a symbol of love was ever seen. Make sure you keep that boy. I have one of the "good ones" as well. Last week, he anounced, for my 50th birthday (my next one) he is planning on taking me to Cuba. Lord love those men!!!!!
PS- I am toying with the idea of writing a book, about how love changes one. If I do, I'll be back!!!!!

At 5:41 a.m., Blogger jamye said...

that is just beautiful! the story behind it is so touching, i love when there are people in life who can change us like this. thanks for sharing!

At 9:17 p.m., Anonymous xtina / fistful said...

wow. i found this really moving.

At 5:57 p.m., Blogger spacemaurader said...

I thought your story was going to end with you saying that he had died. Imagine my relief to find that not only is he still alive but you are still happily in love. That is the part that brought tears to my eyes, that there are still happy endings. Thank you for this very touching story.

At 9:25 p.m., Anonymous ariane said...

i just tried to add your rss to my google reader, and i think it's broken. i am totally heartbroken *tears* ;-) thought i'd let you know!

At 10:44 a.m., Blogger Ang said...

I shouldn't tell you what I did last night.
I was happily reading in bed with Luc asleep beside me when BOOM. A moth - the biggest moth ever - ok just a regular sized moth - flew in and landed right on top of my head.
I screamed.
Jumped out of bed clearing both Minou and Birdie who were sleeping between my legs and landed on the other side of the room.
Luc was less then impressed that I woke him up. BUT he did manage to catch the thing without it flying around anymore.
Whew. Other wise I would not have been sleeping last night. I have this weird fear of moths going in my ears. Can't handle it.
So I don't think I will be getting a moth tattoo anytime soon. And they are not welcome in my home. ICK.

At 8:32 p.m., Blogger sarah said...

That's the awesomest tattoo story ever!

At 8:19 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing this; your moth was my hope.

At 7:03 a.m., Blogger Sunny Rising Leather said...

What a gorgeous love story: that's the best of love, right there :)

At 3:54 a.m., Blogger andrea said...

That's a really lovely story, and a beautiful tattoo.


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