As of yesterday, I have four tattoos.
They are reminders, images, symbols of moments in time. Of eras. Of questions I am still seeking answers to. Of commands to myself to keep moving and learning.
Body modifications that make me feel sexy and rebellious and deep and self-aware.
They are stories yet to tell and stories told.
I have learned that getting a tattoo feels like getting a tattoo. It’s a hot scratchy pain that makes your skin flaky and scabby and crusty and itchy.
There is a ritual to the after care, keeping it clean and covered and moisturized. It makes me keenly aware of my skin, about these parts of my body that I have embellished.
I rescheduled getting my first tattoo because I was going on a trip to Chicago and didn’t want my foot to be wounded, walking in a new place.
I made the decision to get my second tattoo while drunk with a friend. We have matching ones now. And I don’t regret it.
The tattoo on my back made my skin itchy for so long that I thought I had nerve damage. It’s the one I get the most compliments about.
This new one is puffy and sensitive and scabby already, the delicate skin on my inner arm angry and hot.
I wasn’t sure I wanted it.
I didn’t know where to put it.
I’d only had the image in my mind for a few weeks, even though I had an appointment months ago.
Yesterday, after having my artist resize the image twice, and as the needle was poised, it crossed my mind:
“I can still say no.”
I said yes instead.
And then got home and promptly freaked out.
I couldn’t pinpoint why.
Tattoos are permanent. My arm will never look the same. That arrow will stare at me for the rest of my life.
Reminding me of my uncertainty. Of, what felt like, my 31 year old impulse.
It made me feel really uncomfortable.
It’s simple and gorgeous. But it’s forever.
And it commemorates this super tough year and how, despite sometimes feeling like I’m getting pulled back, I always need to be aiming forward.
I made the decision, in an instant and despite all my reservations, to get it anyway.
And there’s something that I like about that.
Because, really, what’s permanent?
There is only this moment and this decision and this body and this memory.
And they are mine.