Some people might think that since I’m nearing 50, I should dress with modesty, dry up, and wither away. Well, I’m not going to do that. At least not for awhile.
Years ago(decades actually), I had just turned 30 and was miserable. My boyfriend Misha, and myself had broken up after 7 difficult years together. I was leaving my 20’s behind, alone. I was not at all prepared for what I was dealing with. So, I decided I needed to do something serious to mark this transition.
I chose to dye my dark brown hair platinum blond. I then cut my long tresses so short, that I resembled a yellow tennis ball.
Then I got a tattoo.
I don’t even remember if we had yelp at that point, or if I just wandered into a random tattoo parlor. I was thumbing through tattoo images, and the tattoo artist was hovering over me impatiently, waiting for me to decide what I wanted. He didn’t seem to care that I would carry the image I chose for the rest of my life. He just wanted to get it done, and get home.
Given that I was fairly young, and at an exceedingly insecure point in my life, I was cowed by his pressure, and chose a pattern that was Maori. Strong black swirls, which made me think of the chaos I was feeling inside.
I got the rather large tattoo drilled into the lower left part of my back. Some of it ended up beneath my belt line, as well.
I never knew the deeper meaning of the graphic that I chose to impale myself with. It ended up scarring my skin, and gave me these raised black bumps. I have resented that tattoo guy until this day.
That’s in part why I decided to get a second tattoo, today. My 50th birthday is in just over a month. I don’t care how old I am.
I wanted to draw something with intention, that was meaningful to me-since I am an artist. I did that, and decided to bring my drawing in to a local tattoo guy in Maui, who got EXCELLENT reviews. I’m sure that the bozo who did my previous tattoo would not have remained in business, if subjected to the opinions and the ratings of customers.
I saw sea turtles on 4 separate occasions, here on Maui. Each time I was transfixed, and felt like something mystical was transpiring as I swam only feet away from them.
I decided that I liked the idea of emblazoning the image of a sea turtle on my right shoulder.
I love the symbolism concerning them, that you can find on the web. Patience, inner-knowing, the ability to protect oneself with spiritual armor, are a few of the traits of the turtle, in Native American Spirituality.
This time, I actually drew several drawings. I brought them into the Tattoo artist, and he played with them a bit. He respected that I created the image myself, and did very little to change it.
He spoke about the significance of creating your own tattoo, and of the intention that goes into doing so. It is a totem, in his opinion, that comes to life, as it is becomes a part of you, and of your skin.
I liked this experience with my tattoo artist much better. He showed me respect and kindness, and he understood how important it was for me to have something meaningful placed on my body, to offset the meaningless tattoo that I had received 20 years previously.
Maybe it wasn’t completely meaningless. Having it on my body for 20 years has reminded me continually of my personal growth since then, and of everything I’ve been through. I’m in a much different place now.
For now, I think that 2 tattoos on one body, my body, are enough. Who knows, maybe when I’m about to turn 70, I’ll get a third.