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The Heart and the Bottle

November 10, 2016


With everything going on in my own life and the country at large, I decided to re-read The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers.

This is a picture book about a little girl who loses someone important to her. And it hurts so much that she puts her heart in a bottle. But you can’t lock your heart away without losing a huge part of who you are.
And once you’ve lost that part, you may not be able to get it back on your own. Luckily, there is another little girl who can help her out.
This book has been personally important to me. It came out in March of 2010. My Dad got diagnosed with cancer in February of that year. The Sunday before the book actually came out I was looking at it in the back room of the store and it was exactly what I needed. In the face of my Dad’s mortality, I had to remember not to protect myself so much that I lost myself.
fullsizerenderSo, I did what any early 30-something would do. I got a tattoo. I took the book to an artist that afternoon, pointed at a picture from it and said, “I need THAT.”
So, he gave me that picture.
This tattoo broke all my rules. 1) I have to think about a design for a year before I get it. 2) No color. 3) No tattoos that would be visible in your average ball gown. (No, I’ve never worn a ball gown. But I thought I might someday.)
It’s in color. It’s on my wrist. And I got it two hours after I’d seen the image for the first time.
It’s been six and a half years. And I’ve never regretted it, but I’ve definitely needed to refer to it more than once.
Which brings us to today.
A friend is gone. And I need to remember that I can’t avoid other people just to avoid feeling like this again.
My country is not what I was hoping it was. But I need to remember that you have to get up and keep going.
This doesn’t mean don’t practices self-care. Absolutely do! Protect yourself. But don’t protect yourself so much that you end up damaging yourself.
And remember, sometimes the best stories are in the smallest books.

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