Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My Anchor Tattoo

Dear Em,
A couple weeks ago I got my third tattoo. While you've seen all three of my tattoos, it may come as a surprise to others. There are actually people I've known for years that have no idea that I have any tattoos.

I got my first tattoo when I was 19. It was my first summer living away from home. I was a summer camp counselor with the weekend off. I woke up early in the morning, & just felt like getting my first tattoo. A fellow camp counselor went with me. I had no idea what I wanted. I looked through the sample books & pages hung on the tattoo parlor walls before deciding on a simple sunflower. I wanted something that wouldn't be covered up all the time but also wouldn't be too obvious. My ankle was the spot I chose.

I got tattooed the second time when I was in grad school. This time I had known what I wanted for a while. Inspired by Footprints in the Sand, I wanted the outline of footprints. It symbolized one of my favorite poems, God, my love of the shore, & all the time I spent with my family at the beach. One of my friends from college was also getting a tattoo, & we went together. Your Daddy watched me wince as I got my right heel tattooed.

Most days I don't even notice I have tattoos, but for a while now, I'd been thinking about getting another. While anchors have recently been popular in fashion, they've always been my favorite. To me, they symbolize growing up as a Navy brat & never being far from the ocean. After graduating from high school, the anchor began to symbolize Rhode Island (it's part of the state flag), URI, & meeting your Daddy. Since buying a house in Rhode Island, the anchor has come to symbolize our summer walks on the beach, our shared love of the ocean, & home.

BUT, I've never gotten a tattoo by myself. You would think this wouldn't be an issue, as I'm not a tattoo rookie, but I was nervous to do it on my own. Luckily, when I asked my dear friend Ali, she agreed to go with me & get one too.

I can't believe the butterflies I felt in my stomach as they tattooed a small anchor onto my wrist, the most noticeable area of all my tattoos. I instantly loved it, & it meant even more that I got to share the experience & the same tattoo with one of my best friends.

Two days later, I was reading to you, & you noticed it. With my past two tattoos, I hadn't been completely honest with you. When you asked about them, I may have told a little white lie & said they were stickers. This time, I decided to put my big girl pants on & be honest. I explained to you that the anchor was a tattoo, a permanent tattoo. I told you that a permanent tattoo is something you can't get until you're 18. If you decide to get one, and many people decide not too (like Daddy), it's very important to choose wisely. Make sure it's something that you're going to love forever, because it will be forever.

You kind of shrugged & went on with your day. I don't know how much you understood. I don't know if you will want a tattoo someday too (is it weird that I kind of hope you won't want one?), but I'm glad that we had an honest conversation about it. I hope we can have honest conversations about things like this in the future (rather than being like me who hid my first tattoo from my Dad for almost a year).

For now, & hopefully for a really long time, we'll stick to stickers & temporary tattoos.

I love you so,

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