Monday, May 4, 2009

Memory Lane Mondays

I write this blog as a way for me to keep track of my family and our lives, and it's another way for my children to know me when they get older. I am always asking my mom about stuff from when she was a kid and I see that sometimes she just doesn't remember anymore about certain events. Other people in the family choose not to talk about the past or simply made a choice not to remember.

In that light, I've decided I am going to write a feature every Monday about myself, so my kids will know why I've done something or a tale from my childhood. Welcome to 'Memory Lane Mondays'.

Oldest recently asked me about my tattoo-- why I got it and why I have that particular image. Here's my tale:

All during high school, me and a group of girls always talked about getting a tattoo. No reason why, I don't know if they thought it was cool or not, but I liked the idea of getting something permanent. I knew, though, that I had to make sure it was something I was prepared to live with for the rest of my life, because when I was old and wrinkled and perhaps a grandmother, I didn't want to have to explain why Granny has a skull on her boob.

I'd always been fascinated with the Hippies of the 60's and I started to experiment with my style. In my senior yearbook, the nickname I have in there is "Hippie". I graduated in '91 and I didn't know what to do with myself. If I read my journals from that year, there are a lot of entries stating just that: "I don't know what I'm going to do with my life!" The summer was taken care of though, and I worked with my high schools' Road Show and traveled to Argentina and local venues for performances.

I found my style and dressed in vintage Levi's, white tees and flowered vests, or short baby doll dresses with black tights. My version of hippie style. I wore peace sign necklaces and my hair parted in the middle (when it wasn't in a pony tail or a messy bun) and fell in love with my first pair of brown Birkenstock sandals. I wanted to live in Old Town Alexandria and dreamed of eating in sidewalk cafes and a carefree lifestyle.

Unfortunately, I didn't have the money for an apartment in Old Town and I certainly didn't have a carefree lifestyle. For a year, Mom was patient with me, giving me space to figure out what I wanted out of life, but my sister on the other hand, I think was getting tired of seeing me without a plan and forced/helped me to fill out an application to RIT/NTID in Rochester NY.

I was accepted into school and in August I packed up my stuff and rode with my best friend to our new destination-- SVP '92. I was 18 and I was determined get a tattoo to commemorate that milestone of my life-- 18.

I originally planned to get a tattoo of a hippie that I drew.. long lines that made up a side view of a hippie with bellbottoms. When a friend and I walked into the tattoo shop (above a bar, no less) and I saw all the pictures of different designs on the walls, my little drawing felt inadequate and I crumpled it up and looked around. I zeroed in on the peace sign made up of daises and I knew that was it. I'd always signed my name with a daisy, a happy face, a peace sign and a heart underneath my name, so a peace sign made with daisies? Fate. It was meant to be.

In 20 minutes, my hands gripping the arms of the chair and biting my lips through the pain, it was done. I did it. I got my tattoo.

OhmygodhowamIgoingtotellmyparents??? It was easy when I was 500 miles away from my parents and they couldn't see my tattoo, but sooner or later, they were going to find out. Mom was easy, I could always tell her everything, but my Dad? Oh dear.

One Friday night in the dorms, my best friend and I didn't feel like going to the usual parties or bars, so we stayed in. She found a roll of B&W film and I had a camera. We had a lightbulb moment and turned our rooms upside down into a photo studio. We had a great time and used the whole roll, taking pictures of each other, pretending to be models and photographers. Some of those pictures came out really great and I used one of those pictures to tell my dad about my new tattoo.

When Dad saw this picture, it took a moment for it to register, then he tapped my leg and I showed him. He wasn't too happy about it, but it's done and there was nothing he could do. I remember he asked me if I realized that I'm stuck with it for the rest of my life, and I said I knew.

Nearly 15 years later, I still love my tattoo.. I still love what peace stands for, I still wear my silver peace sign necklace, and I still love daisies. No regrets. And to the best of my knowledge, I'm the only one of those high school girls that got a tattoo.


Stephanie D. said...

As a gal who actually graduated high school in 1969, the year of Woodstock and the Moon Landing, I totally appreciate your peace sign tatoo.

Unfortunately, I was the daughter of a strict former Independent Baptist preacher, (you know--the "hellfire and brimstone" kind) and my rebellion was gentler and more passive aggressive.

I thought about getting a tatoo about 15 years ago, but now my nurse background just won't let me do it.

DD, however, has an outline of a puzzle piece just below her left collarbone, done after she turned 18, and last year, for her 30th birthday, designed a tree of life with different symbols on it and had it tatooed on her upper back.

I still can't make myself do it.

jenny said...

Stephanie-- They say once you get a tattoo, it's hard to stop at one... I find that true. I only have the one, but I always think of getting another. Prices on tats have really gone up though, and I can't justify the money for a tattoo when other things come first.

You can't do it because of contamination issues or what? They sterilize their tools and all and the artist I went to did it all in front of me so I could see him clean it and whenever I looked away, he stopped until I looked at him again. that impressed me. You cooul always get a temporary tattoo! :o)

Your daughter's tree of life tat sounds interesting. Any chance for a picture?

Wendy said...

My tattoo is a drawing I made, which represents some of the real life-changing events that were happening in my life at that time. It's on my upper arm, near my shoulder. I was twenty-six, but my dad still raised an eyebrow when he saw it.

I'd like to get another, one to reflect who I've become since, but my husband is really rather anti-tattoo ;). I may still get it done, but I can't justify spending the money, right now.

I love that picture of you.

Sparx said...

I love my tattoo too, I drew it and stuck with it, it's on my lower back. For 20 years now I've wanted to grow a tattoo ivy vine up my back and I was just thinking the other day that I should do it - heck, I'm 44, it's not like it's going to matter!

Anonymous said...

Dear, your tattoo reminds me of the movie catch me if you can :)

Btw, nice picture, very classic

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