My first tattoo, I was just about to turn 21. My friend offered to pay for it as a 21st present – she has a rose vine that winds its way down her entire leg. I wasn’t quite that brave! I finally felt like I was coming out of what had been a rough end to my teenage years and was finally blossoming into who I was meant to be. I got a butterfly tattoo in what was then the very fashionable “tramp stamp” location, smack bang in the middle of my back, easily hidden. I’ve never regretted the tattoo; the back story of it means far too much for me. But for several years now, I’ve wished that I could turn it more into a back piece, incorporating memories of my mother and other people who’ve passed too soon from my life.
Surprising then, that given the opportunity to get another tattoo, this isn’t what I chose to do. I’m still not entirely sure what I want this back piece to look like, but I did know what I wanted. For so long I’ve put the happiness of others as a priority, even when it came at my own expense. There’s something very telling when so many of the comments that I’ve had recently are about how well and relaxed I am looking. CJ’s happiness will always be a huge priority in my life but I don’t ever want to make the mistake of putting myself last on the list again. I wanted my new tattoo to be a visual reminder to myself of how my happiness was important. So many of the inspiration pics were of chinese characters or the words “happiness” or “joy” or quotes. All fine for other people, but none of them spoke to me. Then I saw this piece and my heart said “Hell YES”.
It’s the molecular structure of serotonin, your body’s naturally occurring “happy chemical”. As a child of two scientists (a very long time ago, my mother was a laboratory technician – that’s actually how she met my dad), science has always played a part in my life. I have memories of making red cabbage indicator with mum and testing acids and bases in the kitchen. I remember plotting out constellations in the backyard with dad. I remember a childhood filled with rock collections, trips to volcanoes and my sister’s bug magazine subscription. If anything could remind me of who I inherently am, and why my happiness is important, this was it. Choosing my foot as the location was simple too, I want it where I can see it every day. It can still be hidden if necessary, but I think that public perception of tattoo art in the last decade has changed drastically and it’s unlikely that I would need to cover it on a regular basis as part of my employment.
I had the work done by Lusi of White Rabbit Ink who is absolute amazing. Her attention to detail was second to none and their studio felt much less clinical than where I had my first tattoo done. We had great conversations about how cleanliness and sterility doesn’t have to mean that the studio feels like a hospital and I’m really excited to see what their new studio looks like that they are opening in December.
Five days later? I’m still in love with it. I’m so excited for it to heal properly, not only because I would like to go back to wearing my usual shoes and socks at the gym, but because then the fine line work that Lusi did will be even more obvious. And it does the job. Every day I get out of bed, look down at my feet and smile.