By the summer of 2001, by the wise-old-age of 19, I had had three different boyfriends. I had loved them all in various ways and had hurt over them in various ways, though until that summer I had yet to feel any kind of hurt that really cut deep. And when it finally happened, I decided I needed a permanent reminder to never be vulnerable ever again. I decided I needed a Celtic heart tattooed on my, ah….lower stomach. Today the idea that a Celtic heart tattoo would ensure I never make myself vulnerable again doesn’t really make sense, but then again 19-year-old me had a sense of logic only to be understood by 19-year-old me.
When I brought the idea to the tattoo artist, he tried to convince 19-year-old-me of another spot on my body for this tattoo, citing pregnancy and aging as his defence. No, no I assured him. I do, like, 300 sit ups a day and I always will. I’ll always have a defined stomach, even if I have kids. Oh, the optimism of 19-year-olds. Note: At 31 I certainly no longer have a defined stomach.
I put the ink on my credit card, as that summer I was working full time as a hostess at Chilli’s Texas Grill making $5.90/hour. My best friend, also a hostess at Chilli’s, came with me to the appointment to keep me company. We didn’t take very much seriously then, the two of us. Given our life circumstances, doing so would have resulted in severe depression. So as the artist worked away, the two of us laughed and laughed as we always did when we were together. And to spell out the obvious, laughing while getting a tattoo on your stomach isn’t the best idea. There are a lot of mistakes. This is not a good tattoo. In fact it’s a terrible tattoo. Fortunately for me, the….lower stomach is an easy place to hide.