NZ’s indelible mark

Well, apologies to any disapproving family/friends out there, because today I popped my tattoo cherry! I have been wanting to get a tattoo for quite a few years now, but have always baulked at the last moment due to the glaringly obvious risk with it – its permanence.

But, having thought long and hard about it, and mused on the reasons why I want to get one, I have realised that it’s the permanence that is a significant part of the draw. Getting a tattoo requires a huge commitment to a decision, a confidence and belief in your convictions, and a certain amount of dare-devil attitude; all of which are qualities that I would like to nurture in myself. Without permanence, the procedure loses its personal impact, and such qualities would become redundant.

On a more flippant level, I am very much of the ‘try everything once’ approach (although would perhaps modify to the slightly less rash ‘try everything that you like the sound of once’), and I felt it was a new experience to be had – to know what it feels like to have the needle probe your skin and what it’s like to be a client at a tattoo parlour, and to briefly dip into this whole sub-culture, rich with artistic passion.

I’m also fascinated by human stereo-types and love how it confuses people when the criteria don’t quite add-up. We like to be able to immediately assign people to pre-determined categories, based on a whole raft of things such as appearance, job, accent, age, home, family, religion etc. Tattoos are by their nature a visual statement, and are therefore likely to form a key part in this initial assessment of a person, helping to stick them in the appropriate box. I myself am completely guilty of this – for example, I ironically felt my usual shyness on seeing the heavily tattooed and pierced receptionist in the parlour today – she intimidated me with her in-your-face visual statement, and I automatically assigned her to the  ‘potentially a bit scary and a bit too cool for me’ box. Clearly nonsense, but we just can’t stop these auto-assessments.

Anyway, my point is that I don’t think I’m someone that people would necessarily expect to get a tattoo, having always been a very wholesome, well-behaved kind of girl, and it feels good to be shaking things up a bit in my own neck of the woods, even if my tattoo is quite a small, wholesome and hopefully well-behaved one (a fern rather than a skull and cross-bones). Or of course it may just be something as simple as a delayed teen rebellion or early mid-life crisis, wrapped up in cod-philosophising!

As for the experience itself – it was how I imagined: a gruff but very diligent artist, an unpleasant sensation of hundreds of needles stabbing me for around half an hour (which was actually happening) and a sense of euphoria afterwards. I wanted to proclaim to the world that I HAVE A TATTOO NOW! But seeing as most of the people in that particular area of town had more ink on their body than untouched skin, this felt rather inappropriate, and I managed to contain my excitement to a knowing smile.

As I look at my new back in the mirror fortunately I like what I see, and am gratified that I drew my own design in the end – it does feel very personal to me. For better or for worse, this tattoo is now a part of me, and we will steer life’s chaotic course together from now on… 🙂

My back this morning:

My back for ever more:

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6 Responses to NZ’s indelible mark

  1. Gary says:

    Cool! 🙂 For a moment when I started reading this, I was worried you’d gone Maori and had the whole face tattoo thing done!

  2. Jenny says:

    Well done Becky – I think it’s great! An unfurling fern for the unfurling of life! (or something like that!)

  3. Pru says:

    Very nice Becks- glad you didn’t have it on your tummy area- nice at the time until you happen to gain/lose some weight such as in pregnancy! Also, relieved it wasn’t across the boobs- always remember one of Dad’s receptionists showing me her butterfly tattoo across her chest because I had thought that she had a loose thread from her top!!- not nice!
    So, you have a fern from NZ, what will you get from Oz? Perhaps a discreet kangaroo on you ankle?!!!!
    PS Hope it isn’t too sore- in the photo it looks relatively okay and not the red, angry beast I would have expected after being attacked by lots of needles!

  4. ambulavitz says:

    Becky, I wanted to add an ‘amusing’ photo to my comment but that doesn’t appear to be possible. So I’ve added it to your Facebook page instead.
    Wow, you really had an action-packed time in NZ. I hope things are as good in Stralia. I look forward to hearing of further adventures. x

  5. Isobel says:

    Good on you – Looks fab Becky,and you’re so brave, cool, calm and collected about it 🙂 Really enjoying your blog “mémoires” – I “tune in” everyday to read the latest installment – keep them coming!!! Enjoy the rest of your time in NZ and all your new Ozzie adventures to come 🙂 xxx

  6. beckymayhem says:

    Thanks for all your comments guys – I still like it, a few days on – phew! I’ve been surprised by how painless the process has been – it hasn’t hurt at all since I had it done, although is just starting to itch a little bit now a scab is forming – mmm, nice!

    And yes, I saw your ‘joke’ Andy – ha ha… 🙂 And Pru – no more tattoos on this trip methinks!

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