I don’t regret getting tattoos. But I can’t say I care much that I have them. This occurs to me whenever someone tells me the story behind one of their tattoos. Sometimes it’s over the top, sometimes I can’t say I make the connection between a winking praying mantis and their grandmother, but normally I can get where they’re coming from.
So why don’t mine have good stories?
I got my first tattoo was when I was 18, right at the end of my freshman year of college. I wanted a star, because I’d always liked stars and that’s about as much thought as I could put into it. It’s in the tramp-stampiest location of middle, lower back. And it looks like the star that marks the lobby level in an elevator bank because it was designed from the pencil etching of a star in the elevator bank of the lobby of my dorm. The artist who did it was kind of rushed and unenthused and so the quality isn’t the best. My mom saw it when I moved back home a week later. The skin was still irritated and gave the appearance that I might have caught one or more of the Heps. She was mad at me. My dad was bemused.
My second was many many years later, when I was living in L.A. I went with a friend. She had a colorful, elaborate, large piece done on her back. Hers had a connection to her siblings. As for me? I got 2 more stars (inventive) on the inside of my ankle, which seemed like a place that wouldn’t hurt. One is black and one is pink. I don’t even particularly like pink. I can’t offer further explanation. The store overcharged us. It would go on to be the same shop Britney Spears visiting the night of her complete freakout when she shaved her head and got a tattoo of tiny lips on her arm.
The third and final was only a year or so later, and gets an A for effort. It’s the lyric “let it be,” and I got it at a point when I was at something of a crossroads in my life. I can’t remember what was weighing so heavy on my mind at the time (could it have just been that I didn’t like my job?), but the tattoo helped. Later, my dad told me that Let It Be had come on the radio during a particularly bad day during a particularly bad time in his life, and it helped him then. When I got the tattoo, I was with a friend who was getting her first one ever and was a bundle of nerves about it. I volunteered to be first in the chair to demonstrate that it wasn’t so bad. Thing is, I hadn’t been tattooed on my wrist before and actually it was that bad. I had to smile and hope she didn’t notice the tears welling up in my eyes.
So maybe for me it isn’t about the story that went into the tattoo, but the story that came out of it. It’s about whoever I was at that point, the friend I was with when I did it, and the absurd experience I’ll never be able to forget.