I’m 45 years old and I finally got that tattoo I’ve always wanted. Actually, I don’t turn 45 until July 6th but we have kids that week. I couldn’t really take them with me and it’s not like I’m going to wait until the week after so I got my birthday present early.
I was so amped about this appointment. I still am actually. I’m waiting for the high to finally crash because this was an adrenaline rush and a half.
I was worried about the pain. My only pain references are child-birth (which I had an epidural during so I always feel like I cheated), tooth extraction (EIGHT teeth!!! when I had braces) and that time I sliced my finger open because I was drinking (like an idiot) and cutting a lime with a dull knife for my margarita. So I was a little worried. Everyone said it would be bad but then I’d go numb and it would be fine.
Well guess what? I HAD NO PAIN!!! I am a tough mother ******! It felt like exfoliating with a pin. Seriously, tiny little insignificant pin pricks over and over. A mere flesh wound! I kept waiting for The Pain to happen but it never did!! Of course I got my tattoo on the fleshiest part of my arm like Popeye because I was worried about this exact thing and I figured this would be the least painful. Either I guessed right or I have the pain tolerance of Rocky. I’m going with the latter.
You are probably wondering where I came up with this design and why. I want to say it took years but that’s not exactly true. Months maybe. I have wanted a tattoo forever but the designs in my mind have morphed over the years. I’ve gone from wanting Celtic journey symbols to coyotes to birds to even some Secret Agent Josephine art but I didn’t really want my own cartoony style on my arm.
Forever ago I admired some tough bartender chick who had full sleeves of koi fish decorating both arms. She was so hot with a black leather vest and a gives-no-shit attitude. Of course I wanted that because it was so far from my own identity. Probably not the best motive for getting a tattoo but it stuck with me visually.
I started to research Japanese tattoos and koi fish and I really fell love with their meaning. Koi fish often symbolize challenges in life, especially if they are swimming upstream. A lot of people get them if they are overcoming drug abuse or fighting cancer. I read that some Japanese stories tell of koi fish swimming upstream so powerfully that they became dragons as they break away from the water and become clouds of mist over a waterfall. I loved that visual.
I’m not overcoming drug abuse or fighting cancer. I have friends who are and both are very heartfelt and serious subjects for me but I feel like I’ve already overcome my struggles. I left a marriage after 14 years and I left my childhood religion and turned my back on my family and everything I knew. That was my struggle. So I designed my koi fish swimming downstream. I’m sure I will still have struggles to come but they are small in comparison to what I’ve already been through. And that is why there is a small koi fish swimming upstream.
The peony is because I LOVE PEONIES. That is all. Everything else is just decorative. I like it.
Actually, I kind of love it.
I also love this little tattoo parlor. Alex was recommended to me from a sister of a friend. I couldn’t be happier with Alex. She is so skilled. She took my design and refined it and added shading. She really did exactly what I wanted, to the letter. She’s crazy about detail and cleanliness and that was really important to me. But best of all she was kind and sweet and I wasn’t scared at all. She really took all the fear out of getting a tattoo for me. It was like sitting around in someone’s living room, listening to punk music and talking about everything under the sun. I felt so tough and baddass but at ease and comfortable in my own skin and my own choices.
So please, if you are thinking of getting a tattoo do check Alex out. I’m saying right now that I don’t plan on going back and getting “all tatted-up” like I hear everyone does but I can see why it is addictive. It was a crazy fun time and I love the art! It’s like my own personal art gallery that I get to walk around and show off.
Between you and me, I am pretty anxious/excited to see how people will react to it. It’s so different from any identity I’ve ever had before. I expect some criticism and I’m okay with that. It is who I am now and I expect not everyone will like it. I get it. I waited until I was 45 for a reason.