Most ridiculous stories start with one of a few lines. “Remember our last night in Morocco…?” “So it seemed like a good idea at the time, but…” and “When I was eighteen…”
When I was eighteen.
I got this tattoo on my back on my eighteenth birthday. Fourteen years ago. My mom cried. No wait… she didn’t cry. She called me a masochist. I wonder if she remembers that. It made me wonder what she knew about masochism.
I got this tattoo on a whim. Mostly because I could and I did. No wait… it was more than that. I felt like the only way I could express my individuality was with a Japanese character I picked out of a plastic-coated tattoo artist book. I undoubtedly employed phrases like “this just feels right” to convince myself and calm the nerves of the best friend I coerced into ditching 7th period with me.
This tattoo is the first in a long string of impulsive things I could do and did do as an adult in the world… including but not limited to: dropping out of college before even starting, moving to Vermont with a single suitcase and $973, that one thing I did on that bridge, and all the ridiculous things my Dad should not know about, ever… thanks.
This tattoo isn’t really a Japanese character to me anymore. It’s a sign of this impulse that lives inside me. The impulse that packs up and moves to Miami. The impulse that runs recklessly through a thunderstorm (though one should never involve oneself with the words reckless and thunderstorm). It’s the impulse that totally knocked that drink out of your hand while we were dancing.
It’s the outward expression of I’m sorry/I’m totally not sorry.
On a scale of 1 to tacky…. it’s totally tacky. Let’s just be real. I’m sorry sometimes… but I take it back, because it’s just me.
You know what’s amazing?
When you add it all up. The moving here and there and there, the friends come and gone, the text books, the early morning baker’s hours, the scrapes, the scars, the dinners and drinks, and flights and fights.. the big loves, that thing on the bridge… when you add all up, it’s so weird that the sum of these parts is a bad tattoo, a cat, baguette, and this space on the internet.
I never could have known.
photos by lani trock
ps. The lip ring I had? … That’s a whole other Oprah.