The following is a quick-write of the story of my getting one of my favorite tattoos. This will serve as practice for the memoir-type drafting I’ll be doing in the coming weeks to prepare for the Unfamiliar Genre Project. This is my first attempt ever at anything like this, so go easy on me.
I’ve always been a bit impulsive. For as long as I can remember, the first idea was the best idea, and once I set my mind to something there was no turning back. This made my 18th year very interesting; by the time I’d reached the big 1-9 I had jumped out of two planes and gotten four tattoos.
The tattoos are what I want to focus on. Though they were a slight societal taboo, both my parents had several and I had always wanted one. They all have stories, of course, and some mean more than others, but the one that means the most resides on my right arm, just below the elbow: two thin black lines, about the width of a standard sharpie, half an inch apart and wrapping all the way around, unbroken.
This tattoo, like all my tattoos, was not planned more than two days in advance. It was just before finals week my freshman year of college, and I was 16 hours deep in a weekend long study session, full of caffeine and regret (having left all of my studying to the last minute). Unable to stand one more second staring at a textbook, I stood up and said “Do you guys want to come get a tattoo with me?”
My friends, of course, said yes, and ten minutes later I was sitting in a chair with a needle in my arm.
This tattoo was a lot of things to me. I originally got the two bands as a version of an equality sign; the equal rights movement for the LGBTQIA+ community was in full swing, and it’s an issue that’s very important to me.
It also represents connectedness; two rings with no beginning or end, existing together in permanence, all the good hippy stuff.
It was also to honor who I was at the moment I was getting the tattoo. I had just gotten to the other side of a particularly difficult time in my life, and this mark was a permanent way to commend myself of that, and serve as a reminder that I can make it through anything, that I’ve come out better once and I can do it again.
Finally, this specific mark was meant to represent the time and the people I knew in that moment. I wanted something permanent on me from that time in my life, when I knew those specific people. It has become a daily reminder of all of this, and I am grateful everyday for it.
For me, that’s what tattoos are: reminders. They take you back to a place or time, they honor the person you were and the feeling you had, and they mark or make significant change.
REFLECTION: Definitely made me uncomfortable. I don’t like this piece at all; it doesn’t feel like my voice or style and definitely doesn’t communicate what I want it to. It was hard to even complete it as a quick write, because almost every time I finished a sentence I would want to delete it and start over. I think I need to think about a write down the specifics of the memory before I’m able to really write productively about it, and also play with figuring out my voice and the style I want to write in/the direction I want the piece to go. I also want to start thinking about how to connect it to other memories and how to make all of it make a bigger point about education. Maybe I should figure out my overall views on education first, and find memories from there? Or let the memories take shape and use those to form my views? Clearly I have almost no direction on this project so far. I’m hoping the more quick writing I do, the easier this will become.