Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Miss Goody-Two-Shoes Got a Tattoo

At some point in my life, notably around age 13, I got a reputation for being judgmental and a goody-two-shoes. (Would someone please explain that term to me?) I'm not sure what spurred that or how it followed me into adulthood, but that is precisely what happened.

As best as I can tell, I am perceived as judgmental because I hold myself to a very high moral code. Please read that again. I hold myself to a very high moral code. I do not expect that others live by my standards. Where would be the fun in that?

The goody-two-shoes part I more easily understand. I don't drink (much). I don't swear (often). And I don't smoke. I don't have an aversion to any of those things, I just don't have any use for them in my life. Alcohol is not a social lubricant for me - it makes me sleepy and less fun to be around - so I limit my intake. I was profoundly influenced by a  For Better or For Worse comic strip about the beauty of language when I was a child and never had any use for swearing. (Sometimes nothing less than a good swear will do, but for the most part I sound ridiculous when I swear, so I don't.) Smoking is a nasty habit I never picked up. That's really all there is to it. I do enjoy a good "chick cigar" from time to time, but it's not really something I have occasion for often. 

Somewhere along the way I also got the reputation, mainly among my mother and siblings, that I am a horrific prude. Which I find hilarious and take advantage of often. We'll just leave it at that. 
So, all that said, I should not have been surprised by the reaction to my coming home with a tattoo. (Coming home used metaphorically, no one in my home was surprised.) I have talked about getting a tattoo for six years, but never knew what I wanted or where I wanted to put it. Tattoos became more mainstream my Junior year of high school and many girls went to Boise on their 18th birthdays to get what are now known as tramp stamps. So glad I didn't go through with that plan.   

Three years ago I decided I wanted a memorial tattoo for my friend, Rhiannon. I thought about getting something similar to the logo, but was (appropriately) mocked for that idea. I still wanted some form of sailboat, though, but could never find the right design for the size I wanted (smallish). Sailboats get cheesy really fast. The second inhibitor to my getting a tattoo was I really didn't want to go by myself. 

During the hike to Lonesome Pine on Sunday I was carrying on with my whining about the girls going to get tattoos without me earlier in the week. (Ya'll have realized I don't let go of things easily, right?) Lynn, Rhiannon's mom, had asked me what I wanted to get and I told her a sailboat for Rhiannon and she said, "You could do that, but what about a compass rose?" I instantly loved the idea and knew that was what I should do. At that moment my friend said, "Actually, we found a tattoo parlor in Baker and were going to take you there this afternoon." (What she didn't say was, "So you'll quit your whining," but it was understood.)

Lynn, Nike, and artist Lindsay at Shifty's Tattoo.
Lynn helped me pick the design and colors at the tattoo parlor, which was conveniently open on Sunday because the owner's girlfriend was out of town, and she and my best friend sat with me while the work was done. Having them there made it that much more meaningful.

The work was painful. Some of it was more irritating than painful, but pain was involved (think having a needle drug over your skin and bee stings). The thing I can't explain is somehow going through that process and having a beautiful piece to remember my friend with released something in me. I went home to my parents that evening and cried, really cried, for the first time in three years. The pain of loss has always been there, but I've never acknowledged it. 

Part of me feels as though I've taken a step back because I am actually feeling the grief and hurt. Another part sees this as a huge stepping off point. During my counseling session yesterday I did some more crying and told my counselor about my weekend. As I was blabbering I realized there's a part of me that has been holding back from life because Rhiannon's gone. She experienced everything first - driving, boyfriends, moving away from home, etc - and in many ways paved the way for the rest of us. Her choices weren't always wise, but she set out to do whatever she set her mind to. 

Part of me feels guilty for living life and doing things she'll never experience. Turning 23 was really difficult for me cause all I could think was Rhiannon didn't come home for her 23rd birthday and for the first time I was older than she'll ever be.

From this point on I am taking steps to live life intentionally and with purpose. Being consumed by grief is not what she would want. Holding back from experiencing life to the fullest does not honor her memory. She is with me in memory and in spirit and the best way to acknowledge that is to chase after my dreams as fearlessly as she did.  

Compass Rose for maritime direction.
As long as you know where North is you will always find your way home.


Laura Reese said...


george rede said...

I can't explain "goody two shoes" either but that won't get in the way of complimenting a well-told story with a powerful ending. That you honor your friend in both a public and private way is inspiring.