I got inked.
This is my little tattoo. It's alllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll mine and I love it dearly. It gives my Kitchen Aid mixer some seriously tough competition for my affection.
(I'm just kidding, Mixie. Mamma loves you.)
But the darnedest thing of all is that I haven't actually seen my tattoo since Shannon, my tattoo artist, finished me up and said, "You're good to go, darlin'". (I have such a soft spot in my heart for large, salty men who call me semi-sexist nicknames.) My foot was immediately wrapped up in a bandage and I was handed a list of instructions that included, "Do NOT remove your bandage for 24 hours. NO PEEKING!" (and I'm all about following rules ... unless of course that rule is "DO NOT BE AWESOME".)
So out of fear of a tall, heavily tattooed gentleman breaking into my house and yelling at me for peeking, I've satisfied my urge to "look" by admiring the picture I took of my tat with my iPod Touch at the parlor. (Look at me, referring to it as "my tat". I'm considerably more bada$$ already!) I will be allowed to remove the bandage tonight after Salsa class so I can clean it (read: have CLAYTON be the one to wash off the plasma and bloody goo the instructions said are inevitably seeping from the tattoo) and start letting it air out.
But I have to be honest guys, I will not be able to run for about a week and the idea of not being able to run filled me with so much anxiety that I could not fall asleep last night. (And when I turned on my lamp to see what time it was, for some reason I couldn't see out of my left eye for a second and I immediately started freaking out that I was having an allergic reaction to my tattoo and went blind ... but that's a story for later.) But seriously, no running for at least a week? I don't know what I'm going to do. It hasn't even been 24 hours since I got the tattoo and I'm already royally spazzing out about not getting my "runner's fix". Clayton all but hates me because I won't shut up about it and his softeners for making me feel better are getting shall we say, significantly less soft.
So cue my "worse case scenario" meltdown. I was already down for the count two weeks ago when I was on my death bed with a raging cold, so my running was just recently forced to the back burner while my body "healed" and "rested" and did other stupid things that were a huge waste of time. And now I have to take another break so my ink can heal?! (Ha, "my ink". Oh, I'm positively adorable.) Gah! I almost had a conniption fit this morning when I logged onto Facebook and saw one of my friends had posted a status update about how excited she was to run on her lunch break. I almost left a comment and said, "RUB IT IN WHY DON'T YOU!?", but I can't afford to lose any more friends, so I held my tongue.
I had an outside run scheduled after work last night since global warming is providing us with the most delightful winter ever, but when we found out the tattoo shop closed at 8, I skipped my run so I could make sure we could permanently mark my body before we met our friends for dinner. I promised myself I'd get a good run in on the treadmill later that night; I would simply wrap the dickens out of my newly inked foot.
No can do. I can't have socks rubbing on the tattoo or wear constricting shoes that suffocate the wound while it heals. It can cause the scab to fall off prematurely and result in holes in the ink lines. We don't want that do we?
But, like a woman truly devoted to her craft, I did a Pilates DVD late last night to make sure I got in at least some form of physical activity. I didn't even break a sweat.
This is going to be the longest week of my life.
But this was my choice. And I do not regret it at all.
I actually went to the tattoo parlor over the weekend, my little Hermes wings idea in hand and was prepared to leave with a new piece of body art. Shannon drew something up and asked me where I wanted to slap it down on my body. I showed him the spot right below my ankle bone and said, "Here, please."
You know what he said next? He said, "No." As in no, I will not do that. According to Shannon, in all of his infinite tattooing wisdom, the skin located on that particular place of the ankle is naturally very wrinkly and creases with movement. Long story short, I'd end up hating it. It would become warped and faded and quite frankly, he didn't want word getting out that he did a tattoo that turned out so awful. "Trust me, honey," (There we go again with the sexist terms of endearment. Be still my heart...), "I wouldn't send a sale out the door unless I really believed you shouldn't get it."
Back to the drawing board.
Clay and I spent the rest of the weekend pouring over tattoo ideas. The more we looked online, the less in love I became with the wings idea. In the world of commemorative running tattoos, Hermes wings were incredibly cliche and I certainly did not want to be that unoriginal. I wanted something petite and something that not only represented my passion for running and how it changed my life, but a tattoo that symbolized me and what I stood for outside of the sport.
After a few hours, I finally found the one I wanted. It was exactly what I didn't know I was looking for. I determined how big I wanted it and where it would sit on my foot, and then I went out searching for one more detail I could add that would truly make it my own. That's when I remember one of my favorite Bible passages:
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us..." Hebrews 12:1
Come on, it even has the word "run" in it!
It was decided.
So Monday night we went back to the tattoo parlor and I ponied up my drawing to Shannon. "That's pretty cute," he said, taking the photo from me. (If I can get a man covered from head to toe in motorcycles and flaming skulls to say that something is "cute", I clearly win at life.) His response to my idea only reassured me even more that I was making the right decision. When I originally went to the parlor over the weekend, I could hardly speak I was so wrought with nervousness and doubt. But when I stood in that very same spot last night, I felt nothing but excitement.
Then he busted out the needles. It was good that I was sitting down, because I felt my knees go a bit weak. More so then pain, I had a million concerns about hepatitis and other icky, needle-y diseases. "So, what exactly does it feel like?" I asked timidly. "Will it be like a flu shot needle poking me repeatedly?"
Wrong question to ask.
Why? Because he never actually answered my question. Rather, Clayton and Shannon got into a lengthy discussion about how flu shots might actually be a government conspiracy and their widespread, encouraged use was wildly reminiscent of the book 1984.
Within a span of 5 minutes, conversation went from the evils of flu shots to how awesome Ron Paul is and somewhere in between all of that I got tattooed. I was a quiet observer even though the entire process was happening to me. Clay stood back behind the front counter (no hovering!) and talked to Shannon about the Republican Primary and Shannon mentioned how Ron Paul was going to "get America back to the Constitution" and I was all like, "Hi, life-changing event happening right here to me. Okay, thanks!"
But listening to their political debate (in a tattoo parlor that had a neon sign in the window in the shape of a sperm that said "Cum in") kept me relaxed and not so focused on any discomfort I was feeling. At the beginning of the tattoo, I couldn't get my foot to stop shaking. Shannon had to stop a few times and say, "I can't draw a straight ink line if you're shivering all over the place." After assuring him I was a big girl and just had some anxiety, I was able to absorb myself in any and all things Ron Paul and finally stop shaking like a Polaroid picture.
And I wasn't even shaking because it hurt because really, it didn't. When he was working directly over a nerve it was a lot more uncomfortable than I thought it would be, but did it ever hurt? No. Not at all.
I was very pleased with the finished product and I can't wait to admire it later tonight (P.S. Shannon said that when I left the shop the first time, his assistant said I would never come back. Ha! Now what, dude? Now what?!). I told Shannon I wasn't sure if I could even get a tattoo on my right foot because I have some scar tissue that goes all the way up to my toes, but he said it was going to be just fine. And that was a huge relief. I was very adamant about getting this on my "ugly foot". Most of the scarring from my accident is located right where the top of my foot meets my shin and after using an Instagram filter, it's not very noticeable in the picture I took (thank goodness).
While I was sitting in a black leather chair waiting to get started and shivering like a chihuahua, I suddenly had the most vivid memory of when I was 17 years old, driving my old 96' white Plymouth Neon in the summertime with the windows rolled down. I don't know why I began thinking about that time in my life or why it was such a strong recollection, but I couldn't get it out of my head the entire time I was getting my tattoo. Did 17 year-old me think that she would ever get a tattoo? She was so Ms. PlayItSafe with everything. What would she think? Would she think it was trashy or would she think it was "totally rad"? This whole tattoo experience gave me an unshakably deep desire to make her proud of me.
Maybe my mind was flooded with that memory because being 17 years-old in my car, the car I bought with my own part-time job money, were some of the most care-free days of my entire life. At 17 years of age, the whole world is literally laid out for you, beckoning you to take any route you please. Responsibility and obligation haven't laid on the breaks, broken your spirit or impaired your dreams. The future is huge, it's limitless and it's yours for the taking.
Maybe my tattoo symbolizes a tiny rebellion, or a brief foray back to the same crossroads of my youth where I had the power to make my life anything I wanted it to be. I'm 26 years old. While my tattoo is permanent, I am not. I'm not set in my ways. I still have the ability to adapt and change as I need or want to.
Leave it me to make mountains out of molehills and make my dinky tattoo such an earth-shatteringly big deal.
But my goodness, I think that's the most freeing feeling of all.