No, this is not my last tattoo. That will always be the answer after I get new ink. I didn’t plan to get more than one but the moment that needle hit the skin of my left foot, I knew that first tattoo wasn’t my last; a fact I didn’t readily admit to may parents for many years. Tattoo number one was small and lived in my brain for many years. A tribute to my late aunt, no one could oppose it too vehemently because my motives were to memorialize a woman who was taken from us too soon by a disease that we all thought should have had a cure. So I stared at that small heart-shaped breast cancer ribbon the night, not realizing it was only the beginning.
Born out of the desire to emulate her truly awesome bird of paradise taking flight off her hip, my own thigh piece wouldn’t come into existence for another four years. This dream catcher with a compass is intricately designed or as my mother says...big. Eight years after the first, a third would find home between my shoulder blades. A delicate lotus flower, to symbolize that eve beauty can come from the darkness and the mud. The second and third pieces were larger and their meanings more veiled than the first. Tattoos are different for everyone, which is where they derive their beauty. For me, they’ve come to symbolize turning points in my life, reminders of the roads I’ve been down and the places I have yet to go. My style is more pretty than badass but I hope that when people look at me they see living artwork. I hope they see a story.
My parents biggest concern about my small heart-shaped ribbon was that I could cover it with shoes, tights, or makeup for job interviews. Oddly enough, most people know me for months before they even realize it’s there. I never worried about the consequences of my ink. People shouldn't look if they don’t like it. My parents were worried I’d be judged for something I was not. A tattooed girl, a degenerate, an outcast of society; most of society seems genuinely curious when they notice my tattoos. People have asked what they mean and I am always obliged to answer.
Telling the story makes me hopeful that maybe when a girl asks her father to take her for her first tattoo he won’t be worried about her covering it up. Maybe instead of thinking about how to hide our stories, we will focus on telling the loudly. My pain, joy, hopes, and dreams are all in my tattoos, out for the world to see and to inspire others. I’m not sure how many more I’ll get. I guess it depends on where life takes me.