I turned 40 last month. It was one of those birthdays that kind of took me by surprise. Like, how did I get to be this old? Wasn’t I just 19?
I imagine most people feel like this. But while some freak out, I felt oddly zen about it all. My brush with death via cancer has given me a new perspective on aging–I’m simply grateful to be here and have the privilege of getting older.
That said, I do believe I’m having a bit of a midlife crisis. Case in point: I got a tattoo.
I’ve never wanted a tattoo. When all the other 20-something girls were getting tramp stamps and ankle tats, I was completely uninterested (thank goodness). I’ve always loved tattoos on other people, but I never thought they were for me.
But then in the months leading up to my birthday, I was overcome with a desire to get some ink of my own. Part of it was noticing my friend’s beautiful, dainty wrist tattoo and thinking how pretty it was. Then I started noticing other wrist tattoos. That led to actively scoping them online.
Once I’d decided on where to put the tattoo, I had to figure out what it should look like. I knew I wanted just one word, and in a typewriter font. I wrestled with what word to choose, but everything felt wrong or hokey. Finally, it hit me–my son’s initials. Just three letters, lowercase. Perfect.
To me, this tattoo represents everything I’ve created. My son, this miraculous creation of my own body. And then the typewriter font represents me as a writer, and what I create through my words.
The tattoo also makes me feel cooler–no small feat.
Perhaps even more than most my age, I feel old and lame. My post-cancer, menopausal body is not hot (except for the flashes–ba-dum-bum!), and I feel like the lack of estrogen is causing me to physically age more rapidly than I’d like. I’ve got aches and pains and wrinkles and sometimes I just feel like I’m 80. It sucks.
But when I look at my little tattoo, I feel marginally cool again. It’s a tiny thing, but it helps.