Inked and Inspired
Last week, I turned eighteen. Two days ago, I did something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I got my first tattoo. These are pictures of it right after it was finished, which explains the redness and beads of blood.
My tattoo’s existence, design, and placement were the topics of many debates literally up until the last minute. From family, to neighbors, to my therapist, everyone had something to say about my decision. The overall consensus was that if I absolutely must have one, it should be small and somewhere easily hidden, like on my shoulder. Of course that’s the opposite of what I wanted, and look who won that battle. Now, I didn’t get a large tat on my arm to rebel against basically everyone that I look up to. I don’t have the balls to do that. From the beginning, I knew that I wanted this particular tattoo to be somewhere that I could easily see it. It only seemed right that my first tattoo would be in memory of my best friend.
I went to a studio called DreamsCollide and had a tattoo artist named Joe. He was really chill, and offered little nuggets of wisdom to me, like a couple movies to watch on Netflix, and the ever-true statement “School fucking sucks. You don’t need that shit.” He was so relaxed and cool in this way that I can’t easily describe. It made me want to be like him. Joe took a look at some of my ideas, and created his own image that was far better than anything I had in mind.
Actually getting the tattoo was way less painful than I expected it to be. I was worried I would be a total pussy about it, but it was actually alright. The shading hurt significantly more than the outlining. As you can see, the art covers a shit ton of scars on my arm. This was one of Joe’s rad plans. The only problem with that was that every now and then, he would go over a scar and it would break open and start bleeding. That didn’t phase Joe at all though, so I just pretended (and hoped) that that was normal.
In the 40-some hours that I’ve had the tattoo, some strange shit has been going down inside of me. I feel relieved, almost liberated. I feel like this tattoo is something that I’ve always been searching for. I think that one of the reasons I resort to self-harm is to have an expression of the pain that I can never really find the right words to express. My cuts and burns and scars are proof that I felt unbearably bad. With this tattoo, I show my sorrow on my arm in a new way, and I can honor Isaiah in this way. I feel like I don’t need to hurt myself now, as strange as that might sound. I know it’s not that easy, but so far this seems like it’s going to be a great thing for me.
My tattoo deeply resonates with me today because it’s the ten month mark since Isaiah’s death. While this tattoo acknowledges his passing, it more importantly says “I’m still alive.”