Little Wing

14 Oct

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For nearly twenty years, I have wanted a tattoo, but have been too afraid of getting one. For various reasons, I always put it off, most likely because I feared judgement from others. From my mother to my co-workers, I was always too concerned about the impressions they might have. From the way I looked, to my position as a role model for young people, excuses were quick and palatable and I fed them to myself every time the subject arose. But then, I came to believe that there is no better model than to live from one’s deepest convictions. Simply being myself and expressing what is most within me is a witness to others to do likewise.

The search for the right design and artist began months ago, but when I met Agent, I knew he was the one to do it. I have never met a more calming, reassuring, caring to the core person as this talented artist. His arrival back to Lynchburg from a long stay in New Jersey coincided with my readiness. I know, the Universe brought Agent into my life for this very reason. He was the perfect person to help me claim my body back, for that really was what it was all about. As a woman, I have struggled like all women do in owning my own body. From my mother to the various men in my life, it has always seemed that my parts were there for someone else’s direction and control. Being tattooed was not only a sensual intimate act for me, but one in which I participated with mainly myself. It put me in the driver’s seat, so to say. I became owner of this frame, this skin, this hipbone, this spine. It is mine and may do with it as I will. True, Agent was my partner in this adventure and I often think of the experience as similar to giving birth with the normal stages a mother goes through in the process.

I remember at the beginning of our session that it seemed easier to be bare with him because I had met with him several times to discuss the design. I had told him my personal story, so he knew how much this meant to me and what might reflect my character. I had showed him one small design and where I wanted it placed, and he did all the rest. I knew I wanted it to reflect my inner ethnic identity; I am an Irish woman and my wing represents the blossoming of self which has come from this. He has published a book for the industry on Celtic tatooing, so the union was perfection.

To be sure, when I saw how big it was after he placed the stencil on, I was a bit hesitant, but then, I thought. Why?

Go big…or go home.

My dear friend Amie came with me for support and I was so nervous, despite it all. I popped into the shop and gave this mountain of a tattooed man a kiss on the cheek. He is such a big daddy. I can’t explain it. And we started. He is incredibly precise and incredibly gentle. It was almost like being with a doctor; he does right by his clients to cultivate a sense of trust and care. It hurt, but I kept thinking, I can handle this…just breathe. This isn’t so bad. That’s like the first stage of birthing, I’m told.

By the time Amie had to leave, three hours in, I was cold, nearly in shock, and at what I call “the pushing stage”. The pain was incredible and every movement of the needle seared into my skin and it was all gritted teeth and held breath and tensed muscle and pushing through the pain. Finally, there was that moment, the moment where you just think,  God, I can’t do this anymore. And I looked up into his eyes and I said, “Can I have a moment…I need to catch my breath”. He did something so incredibly loving. I’m not sure he knew or meant to, but he moved very close in behind me. I was lying on my left side and he moved to where I could feel his hip and stomach right behind my hip and lower back. I rested my back right onto him. I could feel his energy right behind me, not in a sensual way, but in real strength. He said, “Love, this is a twenty-six mile marathon, the last six miles are all down hill. We are at mile eighteen…can you give me a few more miles?” and I breathed for a minute slowly in and out and then I smiled at him and leaned fully into him and said, “Yes, I can do this.”

He sprayed my side with lidocaine to numb me a bit, and then it honestly wasn’t so bad anymore. I jokingly said to him. “Oh my god, this must be the epidural part!” He laughed.

When it was over. I was so cold, so shaky. He cleaned me up, took pictures of me for his portfolio and I went to my friend Karen’s to tell her of this amazing experience. I was literally high. My body had taken over and it dealt with the injury as any body would by engaging functions beyond my control and letting the rest,  be the rest. I have no real memories of what I said to my friends that night, nor what they said to me. I just felt free, as if I completely owned myself for the first time in my life. Amie posted a picture of me on Facebook that night. I know its juvenile but for middle aged chick to gather 67 likes and more than 20 comments, all encouraging and supportive, I’ll take that affirmation thank you. I’ve never felt so beautiful. I’ve never felt so strong. I’ve never respected a man more for his talent. He gave me the world’s greatest complement.

“She sat like a rock”

I am a rock.

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