See, I enjoy getting tattoos. I find the pain interesting and the endorphins pleasant. And I like the look of inked skin. I always have.
When I was a little kid, tattoos were not prevalent in the realm of middle class America. I didn't know a single person who had one. When I was a teen, they were growing more common. At 18, I got my first tattoo, a Cheshire cat on my hip that I still love. My next three tattoos were all in places that were always hidden under clothes, and I don't think my father knew I actually had any tattoos until after I gave birth in my late twenties, which is probably why I lived into my late twenties.
I'm 35 now. The eye wrinkles can't be ignored. My body is no longer so resilient. I cover the gray in my hair. Aging is a fact, one that I can no longer run from. Someone called me a cougar the other day, and my fury quickly turned to acceptance.
Age is unavoidable, but I'll hold on to being dangerous and pretty as long as possible.
But in some ways, getting older is a good thing. A great thing. I care less about how other people see me, about how they judge me, about those nasty little compliputdowns that women sometimes throw, almost without thinking. I've always hated my body a little bit, because it has never been slender or lithe or fit well in the clothes I wanted to wear. But now, at least, I'm starting to find peace with it.
This new tattoo of mine-- it's a charged issue. My husband doesn't like tattoos, especially not big ones. My son told me it wasn't pretty and offered to bring me an eraser. My daughter deemed it "weird". Heaven knows what my father will say, if he ever catches sight of it. Because this one isn't a fist-sized mark that politely stays hidden. It's big. And I wanted that. I wanted something that felt like a commitment, a statement, a work of art. Even if it's under my clothes, on my back, where no one will see it but the man who doesn't actually like it, I still want it. It feels necessary. It feels beautiful. It feels like part of my evolution as a person and one less thing to fear.
Here's the thing: just as I wanted to have a horse while I was young enough to gallop like an idiot through the fields, I also I wanted to get this tattoo while I'm still young enough to enjoy it. I don't want to get it when I'm 60 and have nothing to lose and feel all wistful for the smooth, curvy back I once had. I'm at a place in life where I don't see the point in waiting to do the things I want to do, especially the things I've *always* wanted to do.
So here it is, unfinished and still raw from the needle. I've got hours ahead of me, hunched over in Melissa's studio, waiting for color. You can still see the old tattoo from 1999, the one that definitely is *not* a tramp stamp, because there was no such thing as a tramp stamp in 1999.
The tattoo is imperfect, a work in progress. But so am I.
And if you don't like it? That's fine. But I don't want to hear about it.
I feel beautiful, and that's all that matters.