Monday, June 30, 2014

Reclaiming my youth and other thoughts.


In my late teens/early twenties, I went through a rebellious phase of sorts. Admittedly, a very vanilla rebellion. While my peers boozed it up at parties, I pierced. And although one by one most of my piercings have been abandoned and left to close up, every so often I start to contemplate my coolness and try to stick a post through. As if somehow my youth is tied to their ability to reopen. In that gratifying moment when a post goes all the way through, I know that 19-year-old Sarah is still in there somewhere. Alive and kicking. I like her. She was fun. (If I could mash her with this wiser, more centered version of myself, I might be closer to finding the ideal me.)

My piercings remind me that I'm still hip. (Though the fact that I'm still using the term "hip" is no doubt proof that I am decidedly un-hip.) I've noticed that I re-pierce during times of change or when I'm feeling particularly boxed in. They remind me that an individual is still in there; a way to separate myself from the roles of mom and wife.

Last month I got the itch. Most summers I slip in a tiny nose ring, but the rest of the time I typically wear just diamond studs in my first piercing (19-year-old Sarah just yawned and rolled her eyes at this admission). That day, I set out to see if I could wear the first three. I was all in. Only, my third piercing on the left wouldn't budge. And believe me, I tried. And tried. And tried again. The less it gave in, the more determined I became to regain my youth. That same week Natalie touched on this very issue; I'm still convinced that paragraph was written just for me. (I clicked on the "again" and was also feeling her previous post on the matter.)

Taking matters into my own hands clearly wasn't working, so I sought out a professional. There is a piercing/tattoo parlor in our quaint little downtown, and I often walk by the sign. That day, I walked in and looked up an impossibly steep set of stairs. The parlor is located on the second floor of an old, historic building; the one open door in an otherwise abandoned-looking hallway straight out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Butterflies now flittering around my gut, I passed through the threshold. Behind the desk was a rather intimidating woman with every imaginable facial piercing. And chest tattoos, which I find to be incredibly hardcore because they certainly aren't for the faint of heart says me. I sat on a wooden bench, hands in lap like a schoolgirl while she chatted on the phone. For an uncomfortably long period of time before turning to me with an abrupt Can I help you? that set my butterflies even more aflutter. I reconsidered my desire to be cool many times over in those long moments.

After explaining my predicament, she agreed to give it a go. Mid discussion, a rather worn looking young man walked through the door. I remember him being very, well, beige. His hair and clothes and skin were all coated in a dusting of dirt which made him seem entirely the same color. He got an even more curt Yeeeees?

I'd like a tattoo.
Of what?
A stack of pancakes. With butter.
Uh, okay. Where?
On my upper arm. 
How big?
Forty dollars big.

Just like that he was out the door with an appointment for later that same day. The lovely lady turned to me with a rather mystified expression and said Oh. My. God. He has a mullet. And, in that moment, I realized the absurdity of the situation: here I was trying to reclaim my youth through a third ear piercing, feeling very vulnerable and childlike; not at all resembling the brazen young adult I was aiming for. Then, in this seedy tattoo parlor, a man walks in and requests a stack of pancakes on his bicep. With butter. Never mind his vagrant status or unwashed smell or the fact that perhaps he should be spending his last forty bucks on an actual stack of pancakes. All she noticed was his mullet (which somehow looked sexy on MacGyver?). Needless to say the ridiculousness of my predicament became quite clear to me.

In the end, she got me re-pierced. It took some finagling on her part and mild discomfort on mine, but it's in there. It turns out she and I became unlikely friends and chatted rather effortlessly throughout the ordeal. I walked out the door with a cherry red ear and a renewed sense of self. Though I'm not rooting for the fourth hole any time soon. Baby steps.

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