Seven years ago I got a tattoo, it was my 5th time in the tattoo chair and I really believed it was a good idea. I’d been in my relationship for 12 years and we showed no signs of breaking up, so I did what everyone says NOT TO DO. I drew up a design that was kind of an abstract of our initials and had it tattooed on the back of my neck. I was happy with it and proud to wear our initials.
And, then… 4 years later, I ended the relationship. One of the first questions I was asked was “Do you regret getting the tattoo now?” My answer: “No. I don’t regret it, it was the right thing at the time.” I still believe that, but continuing to wear it is no longer the right thing.
People in line behind me at the store or walking behind me on the street, would stop me and say “That’s a cool tattoo.” Then they would always ask “What is it?” and while I could have made up some new story, I found myself always telling the truth of it. It was no longer something I wanted to explain. It was the past, always right there behind me, waiting for someone to unknowingly bring it up.
I had known for some time that I would get a new tattoo to cover it up and I knew what I wanted. As is my habit, though, I talked about what I wanted and how I was going to get it covered up. Yet, for 3 years, I waited and procrastinated. Nervous about how much it would cost, trying to decide on the exact design. But, mostly, it was just me procrastinating. The time had come to stop explaining what it was and why I had gotten it. It was time to talk to an artist and make an appointment.
I went to Irezumi, a highly recommended shop in town and was not disappointed. From beginning to end, the tattoo artist was awesome. He listened to what I wanted, collaborated with me on a design and did an amazing job with the drawing. Once the stencil was on, I got nervous about the size of it, then I realized that my life is so much bigger now, it made sense to have the tattoo represent the growth I have achieved. As much as I loved the initial line drawing, I love the finished product so much more. It is perfect.
This is by far my biggest tattoo. It took nearly 3 hours to complete and it was at times the worst pain I have experienced. There was a lot of deep breathing and even some tears, but it was also cathartic. Letting go of the past is painful and I think the physical pain helped to purge some of the lingering emotional turmoil.
I’m sure you’re dying to ask “What is it?” I’m proud, once again, to answer that question. It’s a Phoenix; the mythical bird who dies by bursting into flames and is reborn from the ashes, to start a new life. These past tree years have certainly been a rebirth for me and I’m now happy to wear a symbol of that on my body.