“I celebrate myself, and sing myself”
Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”
A few months ago, I decided what I wanted to give myself for my birthday. It was…a bit radical for me. Despite my liberal beliefs, I am a bit conservative in some areas.
But once the idea took hold in my head, I couldn’t get rid of it. I wanted…no, I needed to do this. I made a goal to have it by my birthday, but it wasn’t possible. However, one week later, I did it. I fulfilled my birthday gift to myself.
I honestly never thought I would get a tattoo. I admired them, but I never thought I would get one. However, like I said, over the summer, the idea took hold in my head, and I wanted to do it.
I know a phoenix is a little cliche and possibly trite, but it spoke to me. What better symbol of rebirth could there be after one’s spouse dies and you are forced to figure out a new reality and existence? Plus Harry Potter.
And I love it. I do. I could not stop grinning for hours after I received it. It’s such a small thing, but it felt so transformative. So symbolic.
My tattooist was great – I think he is in his 80s based on what he said, but he has had a very colorful life (and I think he is libertarian based on his comments. That or slightly conservative?!). He had on classic rock in the background, and we had some good chats about the music. It also made me think of my father.
I’m not going to lie. It did hurt. About 75% of it was bearable and mainly resembled a lot of acupuncture needles being placed at the same time. The other 25% caused me to clench my jaw and grip the pillow. But it took only an hour.
I don’t know if it makes sense to be proud of myself for getting a tattoo. But I am. It felt like a radical act…for me.
I know we all likely know this line from Mary Oliver (and I’ve used it in this space before):
“What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
I want to live. To find me. To be me. And this tattoo felt like the first step in that direction.
Happy Birthday to Me.