- J.D. (Christian Slater) in Heathers
The extreme always seems to make an impression.
This mantra was bouncing around my 17 - year old brain as I flicked through the magazines stacked on the floor of my ex-boyfriend's bedroom. Tattooed men and women covered with magnificent renditions and masterpieces, from Hokusai-esque waves to Da Vinci inspired monochrome portraits, popped out at me from glossy pages of 'Tattoo Life' and 'Skindeep'. Occasionally, I would catch the movement of my ex's pet chameleon from the corner of my eye diverting my attention from this colourful, vivid world where people were living, breathing pieces of art, to the colder reptile world I was sleeping in that night.
Then I found her. It was a picture of a girl, possibly in her late 20's, standing with her naked back to the reader, her head turned slightly over one shoulder diverting her hazel-eyed gaze straight into the depths of mine. Her long, luscious brown hair was gushing down her back as a waterfall to the blooming garden painted across her lower and upper back. It was perfect, I had found my Georgia O'Keeffe.
Immediately I began frantically sketching, finding the right flower types for my very own garden that I was soon going to grow. My 18th birthday was fast approaching and I wanted to do something monumental to mark this day; something that my parents would never have even contemplated doing, something that runs deep and that makes a permanent impression.
"You will regret it" my mother said.
"If I regret it in 10 years technology will be so advanced I could remove it with a click of my fingers!" I countered.
There was nothing anyone could say. My decision was set in stone so there was no room for discussion or reason as this is what had to be done.
The morning of the tattoo appointment I woke up an adult. I was 10 hours over the official legal age and ready to be inked. The pain wasn't as bad as I had anticipated. Since my ex was a regular in these parts, he had assured me that it would not hurt that much but that I may sweat and swear a lot.
He was right. The body was under attack by a vibrating wand injecting ink 2 mm into the skin and my body was fighting it in a way it knew how.
Four hours, three bottles of Lucozade and one dictionary of curse words later and my garden was grown. Black outlines of blooming flowers, tropical leaves and oversized butterflies extended from the centre of my back and burst out towards my sides. About the size of an outstretched hand, the garden was in full bloom and I was beaming.
I had proven myself invincible from the conservative nature and what I then considered sheltered lives of my parents.
For years I loved it, was proud of it and cared for it. Now fast forward 12 years and at age 30 it is time to let this garden die. I am exceeding all my pain thresholds to have burning laser pulses of 300 degrees fired at me at a rate of 100 million W/cm squared as I lay topless in a stark white, clinical box room, whilst my tender and loving husband lets me squeeze him so tight that I cut off the blood supply to his left hand.
Despite this my mother wasn't right.
I don't feel any regret and if I could go back to December 2004 I would do it all over again. I know I had to live through the times before and after the tattoo to reach where I am today. This is a chapter in my story, a building block of who I am and who I will become. I am now at a point in my life where I don't need a tattoo to remind myself of who I was or who I am.
I have come to realise this internally and I no longer need an outward expression to make an impression anymore.