Jon and Susan Baker both got their first tattoos later in life, but their uncanny commonalities don’t stop there.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Susan Baker didn’t get her first tattoo until after 60.
Same goes for Jon Baker, her husband. At the time of their first tattoos, though, the couple hadn’t started dating, nor reconnected since high school.
As they would find out, the late-onset ink represents just one of the many strange – and human – coincidences their relationship has unearthed.
The two area natives, now both 68, were classmates who graduated from Monterey High School in 1960, but went on with their separate lives. In 2007, Jon came across Susan – a girl he remembered from high school – on classmates.com. He was intrigued by something she wrote.
“I posted a blurb about how I was the primary caregiver to my late husband passing away from cancer, and how I was starting over,” Susan says.
Jon responded because he had the same exact experience: caring for his wife, who had also passed from cancer.
“It is the weird sort of thing that brought us together,” Jon says. “It was just meant to be.”
Susan agrees. “It was like an awakening for me,” she says. “It snapped me out of my melancholy. It showed me that I could relate to him and it helped move on. It was a real catharsis.”
They started communicating through email, then began regular phone chats.
“I would go to bed at night knowing that he would call in the morning,” Susan says. “It was nice to think about what he would say to make me laugh.”
At the time, Jon was living in Spokane, Wash., while Susan lived here. Jon’s mother still lived locally, so while visiting, he made a date with Susan.
“We were nervous, like kids, but it was monumental,” he says, laughing. “We went for dinner and a movie and toured the places where we used to live.”
After spending a week together in Monterey, Susan flew to see Jon in Spokane and noticed a spooky similarity in his bathroom: It was adorned with the same exact wallpaper and decorations as hers.
“It was freaky,” says Susan. “I did a double take.”
From there, the similarities multiplied.
“We had so many little things in common, like doing the crosswords,” Jon says. “And having our cocktails at 4pm.”
In 2008, Susan moved to Spokane and rented out her Monterey home.
“We realized marriage was going to be the result, but decided to wait two years [until 2009] after the passing of our spouses,” Susan says.
In July of that year, the now-married couple moved back to Susan’s home in Marina. The Bakers also continued their gathering of tattoos after returning, but their original session together was in Spokane at a motorcycle convention. Susan, being a Pisces, got a koi fish on her shoulder.
“That was our first tattoo session together,” she says. But was definitely not their last.
After returning to Monterey Bay, the couple found Olde Town Tattoo on Webster Street in Monterey. They liked the atmosphere and, as it turned out, it was the former location of the DMV where they both got their licenses.
“[Olde Town Tattoo] is one of the friendliest places around,” Susan says.
Jon agrees: “They’re like adopted children to us. We stop by to drop off cookies and get a hug.”
On Jon’s arms, he has a variety of marine life including a large squid, a jellyfish and a set of SCUBA tanks with a dive flag that evoke nearly 20 years as a dive instructor. Buddha eyes, his first tattoos, peer out from his left shoulder.
Susan’s skin reveals lots of floral patterns, with cherry blossoms accompanying the Kanji saying “Every moment only once,” which was inked after the birth of her great-grandson Cooper in 2010.
Erin Honest is the tatt artist at Olde Town who worked on Susan’s back piece, a colorful collection running shoulder to shoulder.
“They’re fun to tattoo, because they have great stories of Monterey,” Honest says. “It’s my favorite when older folks come in. They just get what they want and they don’t care what other people think, which is great.”
Susan laughs as she describes how older women stop her on the street and ask her about the tattoos.
“They ask if it hurt and why I would get it done,” she says. “My mother would not have liked it at all!”
Jon says he had an office job for many years and could have gotten fired for having tattoos. So he simply waited.
“It isn’t typical [to get tattoos late in life],” he says. “But I like to think I’m not that typical.”
Jon and Susan’s relationship may seem atypical too, but that’s fine by them.
“Since being married to Jon, I have reconnected with old friends and they notice that I am more calm and peaceful,” Susan says. “Every day is joyful. We just have so much fun.”