when i was 39 i came up with an idea for a tattoo to get on my 40th birthday. i had spent some time in north carolina, staying with my friend jamie in durham, and had visited my hero charles kuralt’s grave. that’s what got it started. my thirties had been rough (i almost didn’t make it out of them), and i wanted to set an intention of exploration in my forties. i’ve never had a deep desire to travel internationally – i’d rather go to detroit or kansas city than paris or tokyo. i’ve also always admired those outline maps on the sides of RVs. so i decided i’d get a tattoo of an outline map of the US, and i’d fill in the states I visited in my forties.
i really like regional food and chatting with locals, so my rule is that i count a state if i eat there and not in a restaurant (or on a train).
today i turned 45, and my life has been changed by this tattoo. i’m excited about the next 5 years. here’s a memory from each of the states i’ve filled in:
oregon – nerding out on state capitals with denise, zari & molly
washington – robyn got to choose the color (green) because it was my first post-tattoo state
california – does wine count as food?
maine – banana cream pie ice cream
maryland – debating zari & justin’s first date
massachusetts – sitting on the carter family’s porch
north carolina – is there bacon in beer now?
georgia – henry hates waffle house
south carolina – over the georgia border for a grilled pimento cheese sandwich
florida – key lime pie in the keys
oklahoma – my grandpa and his wife in their pajamas at 4pm
utah – reunited with the hansens
idaho – mini road trip with zari & justin
wyoming – elk antlers in jackson
nevada – oatmeal in a casino
arizona – scattering my grandma’s ashes with my cousin’s family
illinois – the miniature rooms at the art institute of chicago
montana – billy goats in glacier national park
tennessee – the memphis dichotomy of graceland and the lorraine motel
arkansas – little rock central high school
texas – a jam shop with jordan
louisiana – an afternoon on the st. charles streetcar
alabama – the harper lee museum
mississippi – my uncle letting me borrow his little convertible and then following me around in corinth to give me driving directions
new york – jim peterson!
pennsylvania – meeting my friend donna and her family in person for the first time
delaware – a lovely afternoon in dover
new jersey – just stopping to eat
virginia – mosquito attack on chincoteague island
kansas – the toilet in lucas
missouri – ted drewes ice cream
nebraska – camden benches in downtown lincoln
iowa – the university of iowa
alaska – humpback whales
hawaii – getting the perfect christmas card shot of my parents
colorado, connecticut, indiana, kentucky, michigan, minnesota, new hampshire, new mexico, north dakota, ohio, rhode island, south dakota, vermont, west virginia, wisconsin – i’m coming for you.