Wednesday, October 22, 2008

getting over keeping it under wraps

"You'll understand when you have kids of your own someday!"
I don't know if my mom has ever said those exact words to me in regard to her disdain for my mods, but I think they pretty much sum up her feelings. She sees my body as sacred, and modification as a perversion of this pristine temple she helped create and shape. I see my body as a blank (well, partially embellished) canvas on which to express the most sacred elements of my life. We just don't see eye to eye, and in my eyes, never will. Perhaps it'll take becoming a mother myself to finally get it, but even then I will never be able to fully comprehend how someone can experience such a flood of negative emotions as my mother sometimes does in response to my mods.
In any case, I received a call a few weeks ago from a friend who knows Lou Jacque, an extremely talented tattoo artist from Transcend Tattoo in Branford, CT. He told me that one of Lou's clients had canceled their appointment for the following Monday, and wondered if I wanted to take the spot. Mind you, Lou's waiting list currently stretches into Spring 2009, so I was elated to hear that I would be able to sneak in with mere days notice. I accepted the offer and almost immediately got to work tweaking the tat ideas that had I had been causally mulling over for the last year or so. I had already decided that the half sleeve I want would be done by Mike DeVries (that is as soon as I save enough dough to even make an appointment!), so the only other tat that I was positively sure I wanted was a set of Ukrainian eggs on the backs of my calves. They would be a tribute of sorts to my amazing mother and the craft she's been perfecting for as long as I can remember - making Ukrainian eggs! Mom means the world to me, and the gratitude I have for all she's done for me over the years is sometimes overwhelming. I want a part of her to be part of me forever.
After hanging up with my friend I pulled out a few of the bowls-o-eggs my mother has accumulated over the years and began to search for the perfect designs. The two eggs I decided on were both large duck eggs, as opposed to the significantly smaller chicken eggs she typically decorates. Their designs were striking in their simplicity, both boasting star patterns and eye-pleasing color palettes. I snapped a few photos of them and sent them off to Lou along with some details on the style I was going for, as well as some photos of the type of egg stand I wanted to incorporate in the designs. It's remarkable how the speed and spontaneity with which the whole thing was coming together upped the excitement factor a few notches as compared to a typical pre-tat experience. There's usually a consultation, drawing up of designs, another consultation to finalize the design, making the actual appointment, then waiting...and waiting...and waiting. I felt like I was a V.I.P. getting ushered through all the bullshit and right into the good stuff!
The next day I attended open-mic night at Huntington St. Cafe (my old workplace!) and excitedly told my friends there about my luck and the fast-approaching appointment. As usual, my Mom was in attendance as well, and I was careful to ensure that she was out of earshot during my announcement. After I explained the concept of the tat itself, everyone was interested to hear what Mom thought of the idea. I cringed at the question, and meekly answered that I wouldn't be telling her about it. Upon actually hearing myself say those words, a wave of uncertainty came over me. How could I be getting a permanent mark on my body in honor of someone who despises permanent body marks?! Thankfully, after talking with my friend Betsy I was assured that Mom doesn't have to like the tattoos for their meaning to hold true. They would ensure that, no matter what, I would always have her with me. I felt much better after coming to this conclusion, and became confident in my decision to get the tats. Unfortunately, this confidence eventually combined with a few vodka cocktails and I suddenly found myself spilling the whole thing to Mom...
As I should have expected but naively (i.e. drunkenly) didn't, her response was less than enthusiastic. She basically told me that she hated the idea so much that she didn't even believe I was going to do something that would make her as unhappy as this would. I had half-expected an ambivalent or at the very worst a negative reaction, but her actual response was far worse. She didn't speak to me the rest of the night.
I was pretty disappointed that Mom didn't have one of the moments of modification clarity that I always prayed she would, but regardless I remained unwavering in my decision to get the tats. If I had always listened to my parents when they ordered me not to get modded I would have missed out on the enlightening experiences that came along with those mods. It was settled.
A few days of concentrated anticipation later, it was suddenly Monday and there I was at Transcend, 10am, nervously waiting for Lou to finish his stoge and get to work on my leg. My nerves weren't because of the impending pain, but rather a cold-feet effect of sorts that made me freak out at the fact that I had decided to get the tats only 5 days prior. Was I really sure I wanted them? What about all the times I had advised friends to think carefully before deciding to get inked? Was I just excited at the rare opportunity to be chosen as the one person out of so many others interested in getting tatted by Lou to take the open spot? Before I could come up with any definitive answers to ease my anxiety, Lou appeared at the door. "Ready?" he asked. The excitement that suddenly overcame me at that moment neutralized all traces of nervousness. "Yup!" I replied. And I was.

Fast forward to today, about three weeks later and the first egg is completely healed. We decided not to do the second egg that day, but Lou promised that he would get me in for it within the next few weeks. I'm very happy to report that all my hesitation was for nothing, as I am absolutely in love with egg #1. It's a bit hard to tell from the photos (mainly because I was essentially doing backbends to take them!), but the style in which Lou did the tat makes it look pretty dern realistic, right down to a shiny metal stand! Plus the design perfectly accentuates the shape of my calf - it's exactly what I wanted! Even the significance has had the desired impact on me. I've been more patient with my Mom when she annoys me, and seeing it makes me smile thinking about her joyous personality and all that she's done for me. Now my only obstacles are A) finding a time when both Lou and I are free to do the second egg, and B) hiding egg #1 from my Mom.
I think she knows that I have it, but she doesn't want to see it or talk about it. I'm pretty, er, free around my Mom, so she's become accustomed to seeing me prance around in the nude after a shower or while getting dressed. But considering she hasn't seen my nipple piercings either, I now have to make sure I'm always fully clothed! Sometimes I'll find myself halfway to the kitchen before realizing that my tat is out in plain sight and having to retreat to throw on a pair of sweats. It's not the inconvenience of this necessity that gets to me, but rather the fact that my mother still has trouble accepting my mods. She used to hate my septum ring and insisted I wear it tucked up in my nostrils when in her presence, but now it's a part of my everyday getup. I'm pretty sure she just got used to it and now doesn't even notice it's there at all. I figure she'll get used to the egg tats with time as well, so recently I've been "forgetting" to keep egg #1 covered from time to time. I don't think she's seen it yet, but part of me wants to believe that when she does she'll forget about the tattoo aspect of it and simply appreciate both its beauty as art and the talent it took to create such a stunning image on flesh. Not likely, but a girl can dream. I think I'll wait until the second egg has healed before actually presenting the tats to her. That way she can experience the full effect of their symmetry, complementary colors, and anatomical appropriateness, making it pretty friggin hard to hate them at first sight. In the meantime I'll deal with keeping what I see as a beautiful part of my life under wraps, and she'll keep pretending that my modding days are over.
So, after all this I'm pretty curious to see whether the whole "when you have kids of your own" thing will pan out. I guess for now I'm just gonna have to look past our difference of opinion, even if it does mean no more cooking in the nude. Gosh darn it.

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