Saturday, July 02, 2011

Looking back on my inkless twenties.

I'm coming up on thirty in November, and I don't have any tattoos.

Twenty year old Georgia would not approve. She had plans for this skin, especially her back and shoulders. She loved to draw as much as I do. However a few things kept me from getting started--lack of funds, uncertainty of a design, a queasiness when it comes to needles--but I'd be lying if I didn't admit my primary fear.

My mother.

I knew full well that my Mom would go full blown ape crazy if I got a tattoo. And I knew I was not clever enough to keep my shoulders covered. Sooner or later I would forget. And twenty year old Georgia didn't foresee a benign tumor and spending years 22-24 in and out of hospitals wearing open backed gowns. Mom would have seen it for sure, and I would have been too groggy and weak to even give thanks I was already at the hospital. We're old Irish, my Nana still laments that I ever pierced my 'perfect' ears.

At the time I was so annoyed. I rolled my eyes whenever Mom lectured me on waiting to get a tattoo, tattoos are forever, you can't wash them off. "Yeah Mom, I know!"  She just didn't get it. She didn't get why my plans for a 'secret garden' on my back were so cool. (I cringe even typing the words, 'secret garden on my back' how would I feel now explaining it at 29? It sounds like an infection). Now I look back on my inkless twenties and give thanks.

I'm going to have this body--hopefully--for a long time. Would I really want twenty year old me scribbling all over it? She would have scrawled band names, inspirational quotes she didn't understand yet, and obscure references to impress other twenty somethings. Because, heck, that's what it's like at that age. It's all music, thinking you know it all, and showing off how deep you are. Without a doubt I would have had 'Shadowfax' written in elven or a Calvin and Hobbes tramp stamp.

Twenty year old Georgia:
This is the person who would have picked my tattoo.

This revelation begs the question: will I want thirty year old Georgia scribbling all over it?

An older woman, who looks like my Mom but isn't, looks up from a cup of tea somewhere in the future and asks me not to. A woman who remembers the lessons from my twenties, and my thirties, who knows me better than I currently know myself. Maybe this woman decided to celebrate her 40th birthday with a tattoo, or her 50th birthday. Or maybe she got to those ages and looked around and liked being one of the few people left from the twentieth century without any ink. I don't know. However, I do know that a lot of selves are going to occupy this body and all of them will be wiser than this one.

So I think I'm going to pass, and leave it up to that Georgia as she thankfully returns to her tea somewhere in the distant future. Maybe she'll also leave it for a future me to decide. And one day ninety year old Georgia will pick up her little purse, shuffle down to the local tattoo parlor, and finally sit in the chair to the confusion of the kids working that day.

And pay homage to another older woman who knew better.


  1. I am 20 and I do know it all. Just because you didn't when you were there doesn't mean others haven't reached a state of self actualization early in their life.

  2. Carlos, I predict that the 30 year old you will be a formidable force to reckon with.

  3. If everything goes according to plan the zombie apocalypse will happen when I turn 33. Then I can really settle down and enjoy the little things.

  4. I just want you to know that I think this is beautifully written, and really touching.

    Oh man, I remember your "secret garden" tattoo idea. I'm so glad you're over it, because it always made me giggle.


  5. I would also like to add that although I'm twenty-one, similarly to my adopted nephew Carlos, I also know everything. You just weren't as highly evolved as us at your age, Georgia.

  6. A lovely post!
    38-year-old me approves wholeheartedly, and is VERY thankful that 20 year-old me had no money for such things because 38-year old me would now be sporting a stretched out Cat in the Hat. *rolling my eyes at 20-year-old me*

  7. Sadly, I DID let a 20- something me scribble on my flesh. Luckily, the 20- someone me also had a great fear of her mother and started small. My biggest piece was done soberly last year, by my mid-30's self, who's mother has finally made peace with ink. A lovely post!

  8. I waited until I was 57 - 21056 days to be exact. It was the day I outlived my father. I knew the day would be coming and surprised myself, about a couple of month before, with the idea. It was both goofy and sad to do and to live with. No regrets.


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