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My First Tattoo

Photo courtesy of Unsplash 

Photo courtesy of Unsplash 

I'm frequently asked about my tattoos so I thought it'd be fun to catalog each one and share their meaning. And because any time I can supplement an actual conversation with a simple link, I do. Not that I mind being asked about my tattoos, it's just that when I'm asked I usually want to explain and one story leads to another and another and there's often no time for that. 

Besides, it gives me something to write about.

I always wanted tattoos.

When I was fourteen, I told one of my younger cousins that I wanted to be covered in tattoos. Having been raised in a strict religion, thinking about tattoos was one thing, actually saying I wanted some was taboo - literally the worst. But I used to say a lot of things to get a reaction; it was my twisted way of "kidding around." Sarcasm, quick wit, and the element of surprise are a few of my favorite things. The subject of tattoos worked exactly the way I hoped. My cousin cried to my aunt about my declaration, saying she was scared I would go to hell if I got tattoos. It was nice of her, to try and save me from the sins I hadn't yet committed, essentially looking out for my eternal well being, but my aunt told my dad and family drama ensued. So that's fun. 

Now, with twenty tattoos scattered across my skin, I suppose I'm a lost cause. My soul is destined to be forever licked by flames. In any event, at fourteen, I didn't realize I was prophesying my future; even then I knew there was something I liked about heavily tattooed women.

My "Tramp Stamp"

I didn't know there was a term for women who have lower back tattoos, nor did I understand the connotations when I found out. Honestly, it wouldn't have mattered if I knew prior to getting my first tattoo because I refuse to let someone else's ignorance affect the choices I make. If having tattoos - specifically a tattoo on my lower back - equates me to being promiscuous, well, so be it. I'm used to being classified incorrectly and placed into boxes for people's comfort. Although, acceptance of tattoos has increased greatly and most people don't blink when my tattoos are "out." I even forget I have them sometimes because they're a part of me; my tattoos aren't separate from my skin, they are my skin, and I feel more like myself every time I get a new one.

Counting Crows was my favorite band in high school. My love for Adam Duritz was epic, as teenage celebrity love often is. Adam got me in every possible way. I knew that if he ever met me, he'd love me as much as I loved him because we'd instinctively know each other.

See what I mean? Epic.

It's no surprise that every guy I dated would either hate Adam Duritz for being a prominent character in my thoughts or they'd surrender to my obsession and learn to appreciate Counting Crows in their own way. It was one way to win my heart. 

A Shooting Star

I got my first tattoo when I was nineteen. It's the shooting star from the cover of Counting Crows' second album, Recovering the Satellites. It's small, simple, and I still love it as much as I did when I got it. I'm listening to the album, driving down snowy dark Alaskan roads of memory lane, reminding myself how often Counting Crows saved me from losing my shit, as I write this.

I got my little tramp stamp when I was home, in Anchorage, visiting my parents for a long weekend. My friend, Brittany, designed herself a tattoo - her first - and asked if I wanted to go with her to get it. And then she asked if I wanted to get one, too. What? Get a tattoo and then go home to my parents? Scandalous! I was in. It didn't take long to decide what I wanted. It was clearly going to be Counting Crows-related.

What's more, I went to church right after getting the tattoo. Ultimate rebellion. Having a secret from everyone at church was almost as thrilling as getting the actual tattoo itself.

“I don’t need to be an angel, but I’m nothing if I’m not this high... we only stay in orbit for a moment of time.”
— Counting Crows, Recovering the Satellites

I was told by the tattoo artist that day that getting one would inevitably lead to getting another. With the shooting star healing, I couldn't think of any other tattoo I'd want, so I scoffed at the idea. But I also wasn't opposed to entertaining it. 

To be continued...

My Second Tattoo

When I Grow Up