My Life With No Tattoo
One of my middle school gym teachers had a tattoo on his leg. It was a picture of a dinosaur—or a lizard; I never got a close enough look. Whatever creature it was, it was riding a bicycle, and its tail turned into a woman’s leg wearing a stiletto. This tattoo was the subject of gossip for some time. Us Middle Schoolers thought it was scandalous. No one I knew ever asked him what it meant, but I still think about it today. It was the first time I was aware of tattoos existing.
I don’t remember if that teacher was the first tattoo I ever saw. I just know that at one point, I knew what they were. And they enamored me. My parents don’t have any, nor did they encourage me to get one. But I always knew I wanted one.
Of course, the thing about inking your skin is that it is very, very permanent. I can barely choose where I want to go for dinner. How would I be able to choose something I would have for the rest of my life?
But when my friends Tina and Riley got tattoos together the moment they turned eighteen, I was spurred on to plan. Part of it was jealousy, but paired with my teenage rebellion the idea stuck hard. I needed one.
I went through several phases of tattoo decisions. Tina chose a star on her wrist. It was a simple black outline. I liked the idea of something small and uncomplicated. I found a picture of a heart that I liked and stuck it on my wall. It was a fun swooping design but still understated. I told my parents the plan. My mother, trying to feed my rebellion with less extreme options, offered to buy me a new piercing. I wanted my nose pierced. That was, of course, rejected. Instead, we compromised with an upper cartilage piercing.
This only sated me for a little while.
Freshman year of college introduced me to a whole new pool of people. People with new looks and fashion tastes that I used for inspiration. One such person was my friend Zoe. She had an elaborate tattoo of a tiger on her back. Zoe loves animals, but most of all, tigers. I admired that she had picked something emotionally significant to her. Enter idea number two. At Thanksgiving dinner my Junior year, I announced to my family I had decided on a tattoo. I wanted The Beatle’s Yellow Submarine, and in each window would be the first letter of each member of my family. I thought it was a perfect idea because music is important to me, especially The Beatles. Plus, it would honor my love for family too. It had it all.
But when I graduated college, things started to change again.
2010-2015 were some of the hardest five years of my life. During this time, I graduated, started an unhealthy diet, and moved to North Carolina. I developed an Eating Disorder, my parents divorced, and I hiked the Appalachian Trail. Then I fell in love and moved to Maryland. I realized I needed something to represent surviving. A thing to look at to prove that even though I’ve been through hard times, I’m still alive. I kicked around more tattoo ideas, finally settling on something I was happy with. But not being impulsive, I decided to wait for the right moment. Whatever that was.
And then my husband got a tattoo. On a whim. And he got it within a month of having the idea.
I had the same feeling I did back in high school. I was jealous. But I was angry because there was no reason why I should have waited. So I made an appointment. By the time this article publishes, I will be the proud owner of my first tattoo. I decided on the silhouette of a bull because I am a stubborn Taurus. Part of the bull’s back will have the words “Strong Like Bull” in cursive to represent that I can make it through anything. The bull’s tail will turn into a bleeding heart flower – the flower that grows every year around my birthday. But it also represents my bleeding heart personality.
I almost regret not getting anything sooner because every idea represents a different part of my life. That’s why I admire people with tattoos. Whether it was an impulse decision or a plan, a heartfelt image or one they thought was cool, they all represent a part of that person. I have a feeling, though, that now that I’m starting, I’ll get more. I still have a lot of ideas! But hopefully, it won’t take me another thirty-three years to do it.
Featured Image courtesy of Unsplash.
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