One of my favorite songs to play in the morning before high school began with a man asking: “Feeling stuck?” and rambled off into a jingle about fly paper before launching into a jaunty beat. It was the perfect way to trick myself into believing the world was a great place and high school was a place I wanted to be.
By college, that excited morning feeling couldn’t be conjured up so easily. I was pathetic, probably mildly depressed, and clinging to an odd assortment of friends.
So when an old friend mentioned walking the width of Spain during the summer after our freshman year, I seized upon the idea and began saving my meager minimum wages from a desk job I only kept because the woman who worked with me sighed so much I thought she might actually sigh herself to death without anyone to strike up idle chatter about the coffee machine.
Her pantsuits were my eventual destiny, I was convinced, and I practiced my long-suffering sighs on the treks home from work.
I was most definitely stuck, and the Camino unstuck me. I came back from the walk with a newfound appreciation for my legs for carrying me across a country, my mind for spending hours alone and with new people speaking different languages, and the world for its beauty.
I damn sure wasn’t going to waste any more time moping about anything I had the power to change.
During the four years since, I’ve gone back and forth about getting a tattoo to commemorate it. I’ve drawn the way marker on my skin in a billion locations, some visible, some hidden.
I wrote an entire blog post about how much I wanted it permanently etched onto my skin.
A week and a half ago, I settled on my inner forearm, just below the elbow. It’s about two inches by two inches and it’s still a little flaky with dead skin.
To the clerk at Trader Joe’s, it’s a visual representation of some made up vision quest he decided I went on. To a bartender near my house, it’s just a seashell. To me, it’s a constant reminder of persistence and the importance of unsticking oneself.
Four years from now, I’ll probably need another reminder. Until then, I can look at the tattoo, listen to the song on full blast, and go for a walk.