Today I want to talk ink. Tattoo ink, specifically. My love affair with tattoos was born early on in high school after seeing Stranger Than Fiction with some friends. In the film, Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a fiesty, tax-evading baker who sports a seriously cool sleeve tattoo that I coveted immediately.
I was hooked. I became obsessed with getting a tattoo of my own; something that meant something dear to me, and that I could be proud to wear on my skin, well, forever. Shortly after my 18th birthday, I found myself in a tattoo parlor, acting as coach and supporter for two close friends who were getting their first tattoos. I had no intentions of getting one of my own that day, solely because I knew my parents would be less than pleased about it. I wanted one, of course, and even had a tattoo plan two years in the making, but I was too nervous to go against my parents’ wishes, especially with an escape to college a whole three weeks away. So, I sat like a good girl in the guest chair, biting back my envy while holding my friends’ hands during their sessions.
While taking a short break, one of the artists looked over at me and asked what I was getting done that day. When I explained to him that I was there merely to support my friends, he pressed on. Did I want a tattoo or not? Was I eighteen or not? I said of course I did, and yes I was, but my parents were against them, and so I was waiting it out for now. Then, he asked me something that I’ll never forget.
“You’re an adult aren’t you?”
Hell yes I was. Needless to say, I left the shop that day with ‘have heart’ written across my wrist, and I could not have been happier. Now, I fully realize that that artist was certainly just out for another customer, but his question dug into my brain and lit up a part of myself I hadn’t met before: an adult, independent Ashley who stood up for what she wanted and went for it. Even if on that particular day all I wanted was a tattoo, my action marked a new phase of my life, where I called my own shots and I was responsible for my decisions. I was alive and happy in a new, delicious way that I did not want to end. I chose the words ‘have heart’ to remind me of how I felt that day, and to never stop chasing that feeling for the rest of my life.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Getting a tattoo was NOT about defying my parents (who are both awesome, and eventually came around to my new ink anyway) or sticking a figurative middle finger up at society. It was about me, making an intensely personal decision that I had spent forever weighing the pros and cons for, and saying a very literal “f*** it” before doing something for myself that I had wanted for a very long time. I loved my tattoo from the moment it was finished, and am happy to report that I love it just as much, if not more, seven years later. I even named this blog after it (if you hadn’t made that connection already)!
I took the plunge and got my second tattoo, a small elephant on the inside of right ankle, while I was studying abroad in London. I chose this little guy for a few reasons, which I won’t get into here, but I love him more than I can say.
Do I have plans to get more tattoos? The short answer: hell yes. In the meantime, do you have any tattoo stories/ reasons behind your ink? I’d love to hear from you!
Until next time!