There are many things we did not anticipate in May 2012 when we made our way to the second floor of the old building that housed Charmed Life Tattoo, back before the shop moved to its new location on North Limestone. We climbed the narrow steps in search of Robert Alleyne, hoping to persuade him to tattoo roughly a hundred Lexingtonians with the words of a poem still in the making.
We did not know that our first time in a tattoo parlor would also mark the beginning of a friendship, one that took shape over many conversations about dots and circles and the anticipated pain of our first tattoos.
We could not know that all the circles and dots Robert made in the course of a month would start to play tricks on his eyes. Because the number of participants had grown to over 200, Robert had to ask his partner Jay Armstrong for help.
We had no idea that Robert would ask us to tattoo him with his own part of the Lexington Tattoo Project. Thankfully, he chose a short word–“It”–and was unflappable as each of us tried to gauge the amount of pressure required to make a permanent mark in ink without causing too much pain. We still don’t know whether we caused Robert unnecessary pain during our first session as tattoo artists.
We are thankful to Robert for enduring the pain and for so much more.