Growing up in Northwest Washington has it’s perks, and among them is the proximity in which our friendly neighboring Canadian’s live. Prior to 9/11 my friends and I would spend every single opportunity we had in Canada. The farm I grew up on was approximately six miles from the border as a crow flies. In those days, it was more cost effective as well as carrying a heavily weighted “cool” factor. Even after 9/11 when crossing the boarder was still easy enough but coming home was more difficult, we managed to go every other weekend. Canada has a well known nineteen and older drinking age and being a youngin myself meant that we could indulge a few years early without having to beg someone’s older sibling/boyfriend/neighbor/homeless guy to buy us booze. Needless to say we also spent every birthday celebrating to the fullest across the border.
On my eighteenth birthday we, per usual, spent the weened in Canada (oh also they never actually carded) and coming home my girlfriends and I decided to get tattoos. I was still a bit inebriated from the weekend but had thought long and hard about what I wanted for months before hand. As we pulled into what can only be described as the most hole in the wall sketchy location we could find (we weren’t afraid of anything after all, I was an adult now – bring it on!).
What became a long afternoon of printing and reprinting art from the lofted bedroom of the tattoo parlor, my friend and I each came up with the perfect artwork for our virgin skin. I’d picked the constellation Orin, a nod at my life long love of the history behind my favorite snip of sky. We sat in chairs and… it didn’t hurt nearly as much as I had anticipated. I’d built it up so much in my head that when it finely came, it was a little disappointing.
Unfortunately we both let the tattooist, a shorter gal with jet black hair and more piercing than the hairs on my head, convince us to use a color called “henna”. I was going for a natural freckled look, too afraid to make the plunge of full on color. What sounded like a good idea at first later ended in a comment from my friends mother that went something like “that piece of shit tattoo looks like a bunch of bleeding zits.” Looking back, I don’t think she liked the idea of tattoos on the whole, despite how correct she might have been.
Since then I’ve acquired three more each with a unique story and personal meaning. I can easily see myself having many, many more tattoos in the future. I’m not shy of the potential beauty in the skin canvas I walk around with. I believe that the artistic self expression through body art can be striking and I look froward to a future with much more color.