When I was 18 years old, like every other American teenager, I was considered an adult. With the passing of my “adolescence” came the realization that the world was at my fingertips. I was now able to vote, open a checking account, and leave the country without parental consent. As great as some of these things were, there was one thing I was waiting for. This activity I wanted so badly that I nearly jumped out of my skin once I was able to participate, and that was tattooing. Where I live, here in NY, state law prohibits anyone under the age of 18 to get tattooed, even with parental consent. My mom would have chained me in the basement if I even considered asking her to sign my flawless skin away, regardless. Once I turned the legal age, it was game on. For those who aren’t tattooed, those who don’t understand it or even those who reject the idea, I wanted to bring you into my head so maybe you could understand why I was drawn to permanent beauty.
My first tattoo I got when I was 18 years old. It is the Chinese symbol meaning “friendship” on my left inner ankle. Back in the late 90’s getting Asian writing was all the craze and I figured it would be an easy first tattoo. It was small, simple and easily hidden. I chose friendship because I believe it is the basis of all relationships. Even though I wanted the tattoo, and I was of legal age, my mother had forbidden me to ever get one. Since I was still living at home, I decided that I would still get the tattoo but conceal it. This was actually the case for my first three tattoos but I’ll get into that later. I went to a local shop with the design in my possession, showed the artist where to stencil it and I was all ready. 15 minutes later, with a minimal amount of pain, a bit of blood and an endorphin rush, I had gotten my first ink. I loved it and at that moment that I knew was addicted.
My second tattoo is on my lower back, which was birthday gift from my older brother Demian. It was Celtic and Egyptian inspired and I designed it myself. Like Asian symbols, lower back tattoos in the late 90’s were cool, so don’t judge.
This particular piece has a lot of meaning for me incorporating my family life into it. The eye serves as a reminder to keep my eyes open to the life around me, and the water inside a reminder of my childhood on the boat with my father. The design on the sides was inspired by brother, because he loved all things Celtic.
My third tattoo is on my left outer ankle on it extends to my feet. I grew up seeing one specific rose being drawn everywhere I could see. My mother loved to doodle them on loose papers around the house. I took this rose, extended the vines, and made it my next tattoo. The two blue roses represented my mother and me, and our indivisible bond. After getting this tattoo I finally came clean with my mom that I had gotten multiple tattoos, after all I was 21 by this time. Even though she was mad as can be that I lied and defied her, the new ink was a dedication to her, so she didn’t stay mad for long.
My next 4 tattoos were butterflies, hearts and stars on my feet, and wrists. I love girlie things with bright girlie colors so I continued to decorate my extremities with such sights.
My eighth tattoo is the floral vine that starts just above my waste and ends at my shoulder. I have always loved flowers and this is my way of being one. The watercolor inspired “forget me not’s” on my shoulder are technically my eighth tattoo but they all connect. The “forget me not’s” is the flower of my husband’s birth month so I added them in.
My final tattoo is on my right inner arm and it is simple script reading, “Je T’aime Beaucoup,” which means, “I love you very much” in French. For Christmas 2010, my husband and I got identical ink in identical spots. Instead of buying each other gifts, this is how we decided to exchange.
Every piece of art that I have permanently placed on my body has meaning to me, it is a dedication to people that I love. Tattoos are an expression of feeling, an outward statement of my love and passion. Even though some people might not understand the need to mark their bodies in such I way, I hope you can understand why some might. My ink is not just a decoration but also a living history of my life displayed on my skin.
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