Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Some years ago when I was still living in Boston, my brother and I would meet up every Sunday to spend time together -- he picks me up from my dorm, we go to church, and we have lunch. Afternoon activities were highly dependent on the weather. The temperature outside is directly proportional to the probability of us staying outdoors.

It was summer -- one of those rare days when the weather's just right. Boston is the type of city where you can experience four seasons within one day. Whacked, I know, but it's the absolute truth. My brother and I were strolling down the end of Newbury St and we saw a tattoo parlor. I don't recall seeing it before, but hey, it happened to be there during that day. My brother nodded towards the place and said, "You want to check it out?"

A lovely Indian lady was running the store; she was maybe fifty-ish. She had quite a team of talented tattoo artists with their arms boasting of numerous artworks. I was looking at the array of designs and patterns when she made her way towards me. "You have very beautiful skin," she said. "Would you want some art on it?"

"Oh, no. I'm not really one for pain," I said a bit too quickly. It was true, too!

She took my hand and led me to another part of the room. There, she pulled out a collection of more designs. "These," she said. "These are temporary ones. Henna tattoos, that's what they are. And I promise, they won't hurt." She smiled softly at me.

My brother appeared behind me and looked over my shoulder. "Oh, I've always wanted to get one of those!" he exclaimed. "Come on, come on, let's get them!"

Here's my thing about body art. What's the point of having them when no one's going to see them? I asked the lovely Indian lady to custom-make a pattern that would look good on the back of my hand. My brother, on the other hand, opted to go for the conventional tattoo on his arm where the sleeves of his short fall off.

I was madly pleased with how it turned out. I left the ink to dry for several hours and squeezed enough lemons to rob a little girl off her lemonade stand on it. It was gorgeous. For the next week or so, I was the superstar. Everyone greeted it with praises and "ooohs" and "aaahs." Even my Chemistry professor loved it -- amid me trying to measure some iron fillings to put in a beaker.

One night as I was brushing my teeth, I caught sight of my hand in the mirror. For some reason, it no longer attracted me, it no longer looked good to me. I spit out the rest of the foamy toothpaste and decidedly starting rubbing the back of my hand under running water. It wasn't coming off! I poured some liquid soap on it, some shampoo, rubbing alcohol -- anything I can get my hands on. I even tried using laundry detergent! It still wouldn't come off. It faded a bit but it was nothing compared to the redness of my skin. It looked like I shoved my hand in a pre-heated oven and let it bake for half an hour. I was so infuriated! However, I eventually conceded defeat and allowed my tattoo to fade with time. It took another two more weeks before it completely disappeared.

That was when I realized that getting a real tattoo would probably be a big mistake. It hurts -- and it's permanent!

I have nothing against permanent states or "forever"... or commitment. As a matter of fact, I quite believe in it. Commitment is essential in relationships, in raising a family, in establishing a career and forming friendships. However, commitment to certain things frighten me. I hate the idea of getting pinned down and not being able to do anything about it. Though we have technology to thank as tattoos can now be erased, there's a part of you that knows it will always be there though it may not be visible to the naked eye. Getting one is a decision that I have to deal with for the rest of my life. Who am I to know that I would still enjoy having a drawing of a purple fairy on my hip when I'm seventy years old? And how will I deal if my career takes on a path where tattoos are simply unacceptable?

I also have reservations regarding long contracts. The idea of a mortgage, for instance, is pretty intense. Though half the world has one, it doesn't stop me from feeling adversely towards it. I'm hoping that it has got something to do with my age and the place where I am in my life, but to be locked down in a series of payments for thirty years? I mean, that's as good as chaining myself to the lamp post near City Hall. Furthermore, I also shun long term investments -- those kinds where you have to trust a financial institution that it wouldn't run off with your money for a certain amount of time. What if I need the money all of a sudden and I can't take it out (without paying a hefty fee)? What if I have to leave the country and settle somewhere else? How do I get my money to follow me without the hassle?

Perhaps it's me having a knee-jerk reaction to settling down. Though technically, I am of a marry-able age and I could very well look into settling down, a big part of me still feels incomplete. I know that I will reach a part of my life where I have to sit down the dining table and pour over a stack of bills (including a mortgage), think about long-term savings plans for my kids and maybe get a loan to finance a small business -- this totally blows away the two-year mobile phone contract that I had to carefully scrutinize and think over. Right now though, I'm anything but ready -- financially, mentally and emotionally. And I've had to convince myself over and over before that it is pefectly okay to admit that I'm not ready. People walk in various paces. I walk a little slower in this aspect -- so bloody what? At least I know I'm a slow walker. I know of some people who deny themselves of this fact and tries to convince themselves that they aren't -- only to run into problems that are bigger than life.

At present, I like the idea of knowing that I can up and leave whenever I want and go wherever I want. I still have no idea where I'm headed so I'm allowing myself to make a few mistakes in the hopes that maybe, through the process of elimination, I can find myself a good destination. And perhaps on the way there, I can pick myself up a lifelong companion who wishes to go to the same place.

Commitment isn't a bad thing -- neither is settling down. However, it's also important that we are ready and prepared when we decide to do either. Or else, it would be like getting stuck with an ugly tattoo on your favorite body part.


Blogger AVIANA said...


First off, I completely feel you on this. I've been a commitment phobe for a long time. I've been scared at the idea of settling down, having kids getting married, a regular job etc.

But part of me really does want those things. Then I realized it is because my parents have had a tight rein on me all of my life. And it is now that i'm in my late 20s that i'm starting to break free but it is still difficult because of the psychological affect of being told you can't do something because you are not allowed because you are poor, black, a girl, or simply because your parents don't like it and will disown you if you do the opposite.

i am now finally starting to live my life on my terms but there are some strings still attached to my parents way of raising me that are only holding me back.

why would i want to get married now and have kids now? that will only hinder me from achieving my dreams...albeit now would be the ideal time for people my age to get married and most people i know are at that point...but thanks to the right reins by my parents i want none of that until years and years from now when i'm in my late 30s or so.....

i want to breathe first before i settle...

9:42 PM  
Blogger Glamourpuss said...

It took me a long, long time (about fifteen years) to decide what I wanted, but now I have a tattoo that I know I will love forever. It says something very particular and personal about me and is in a place where it's only visible if I choose to show it. It is part of my identity, but I had to really know myself before I could commit to that. A couple of years later, I managed the mortgage. Marriage still terrifies me.


9:43 PM  
Blogger Danielle said...

I am from Boston and I am pretty sure I know that nice Indian lady especially if the shop was closer to Tower Records and the Hynes Convention Center rather than the Commons.
Henna tattoos always look better when newly done. I now have some remnants of a design on my hand that is fading fast since I didn't reapply like I usually do.

The name of the shop and the Indian lady isn't coming to me but I am so sure it is a friend of our family.

Be well and enjoy the day.

10:04 PM  
Blogger Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

Oh, such wise words! I was almost 30 before I married. Before my mid-twenties, I had no inclination at all to settle down, and I'm so glad of that. I have travelled the world, had a very successful career, owned my own central London apartment, brand new sports car, and have dated many well-know folk. Now, I'm content to settle down - no regrets - with four kids, a wonderful husband, and everything out of my system.. it's well worth waiting for.. life can only be lived once. You go for it, girl!

10:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a bit of a difference between a henna tattoo and getting married, a mortgage and having kiddies.. or maybe its just a question of proportion?

10:57 PM  
Blogger lisa q. said...

i hear ya girl...

i waited until i was 38 to get my first i have two and am planning #3 and #4...likewise, i bought my first house just 3 years ago...

it will come in time...when the time is right...

11:29 PM  
Blogger Aditi said...

its wonderful how u have connected the two aspects beautifully..
i could never get a tattoo for the pain aspect of it and that what if i get bored of it later in life?
as for settling down.. i think i am one of the most commitmentphobic ppl ni know

12:55 AM  
Blogger Divya.B said...

wow, what a post! I had almost forgotten the tattoo episode until you connected marriage, mortgage, etc to the tattoo blues in the last line. A powerful write up.
Coming to the post, I got reminded of a few lines of a hymn I learnt at school which goes like "There's a time, there's a time, time for sowing, time for reaping, every purpose under heaven has a time"

12:55 AM  
Blogger paddy said...

"Blue, songs are like tattoos
You know I've been to sea before
Crown and anchor me
Or let me sail away
Hey Blue, THERE is a song for you
Ink on a pin
Underneath the skin
An empty space to fill in"
Boston:"Blue, songs are like tattoos
You know I've been to sea before
Crown and anchor me
Or let me sail away
Hey Blue, THERE is a song for you
Ink on a pin
Underneath the skin

Whacked in Boston- the Irish run that town I believe.
I know exactly how you feel, but a friend said to me once and it is not an answer but more of a thought, he said:"you know Paddy at our age we should be walking when we're running" He was talking about our lack of commitment in our early days. That's the rub; what you put off until tomorrow you'll...., but who am i TO TALK.
Great thought provoking post.
Y;-) Paddy

2:16 AM  
Blogger paddy said...

PS: Please forgive the repeat error
on the quote Blue.

2:19 AM  
Blogger Paul Champagne said...

I made the mistake of getting a tatoo ... wish I hadn't now, but c'est la vie.

As for a mortgage, I saved for 10 years, put $25000.00 down and went with a 15 yr mortgage ... made me feel a little bit better about the committment.

3:04 AM  
Blogger Sunshine said...

Very interesting is rather impossible to be "kind of committed" in any sort of venture be it where you live or whether you want a tattoo. Very similar to the saying "a little bit pregnant". No such thing.
I have a tattoo myself that is located on my back so I can maintain some decorum and no one is the wiser depending on who I'm with!

3:19 AM  
Blogger X. Dell said...

I would say that you have lots of time to make a committment of any type--even to an ink-stained hand.

Great story, and analogy. I liked how you realized your change in emotions vis-a-vis the tattoo. Most people don't acknowledge that--probably because they aren't aware.

Long-term commitment to anything makes us rethink our notions of freedom. We may feel comfortable with something, even for a long time. Yet, we are still chained to it. In a marriage, one might feel chained to their spouse, and try to escape, to saw through the shackles, as it were. The other one will usually try to stop them. If he or she doesn't then other family members probably will. The courts will intervene if the family is indifferent.

Establishing yourself before making the committment is a smart thing to do. After all, you'd want to know what you're committing to. Hard to do that until after you've seen a few things--many times.

4:22 AM  
Blogger Crushed by Ingsoc said...

I think you can settle down and find someone to share your life with, without having to get excited about commitment.

People seem to think it has to be one or the other. But there's no necessity for it to be that way.

It's kind of forcing the issue.

6:03 AM  
Blogger Princess of the Universe said...

I thought long and hard about my tattoo- it's been 8 years, and I haven't regretted it for a moment. (Who knows how I'll feel when I'm 70?)
I completely understand about the mortgage thing though. My best friend had a house when she was 22. I had to wait until I was 30, and I still only have a condo (less responsibility). It's a HUGE commitment.

8:12 AM  
Blogger Sling said...

Just don't get a tattoo princess.
Wait..Maybe that's too general..
IF you decide you want a tattoo,make sure that is designed only for you,and that the design is destroyed afterward. Both of my brothers are tattoo atists,and while I wish I had a few less,the ones I have are unique.

10:31 AM  
Blogger CM-Chap said...

Hats off Princess. I emphathize with you. There is no point regreting later for anything that has happened.

10:38 AM  
Blogger Cuckoo said...

So wonderfully you've connected the two aspects of life. I agree with you... all of it. I too love the henna tattoos but cant imagine myself going for a permanent one.

Keep posting.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Thank you, Princess, for such a lovely post again. We're never too sure about ourselves, are we? Thanks for articulating the feelings

11:04 AM  
Blogger mjd said...

Interesting banter and flow of thoughts, Princess. I like your post that began with the discussion about tattoos and ended with thoughts about long term commitment.

11:44 AM  
Blogger whimsicalnbrainpan said...

Well said!

From what little I know of you, you seem wise enough to be able to figure out when the time is right for you to settle down. Enjoy your freedom now so that you can enjoy your commitments when you are ready.

12:30 PM  
Anonymous susan said...

I don't think I'll ever be ready for something as permanent as a tattoo. I can't even keep a favorite color for more than a day or two!

On the other hand, once I reached my mid-twenties I knew I had found "Mr. Right" and thrive on the whole kids and mortgage thing. I was just ready...and thats not something you can push into before it's time.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

You know, you just gave me a memory of dying my hair blue and although it is not permanent, it still takes a long time to grow out and you do not exactly look great while doing it. Now, those days are long past, but man, can you imagine?

you have made me smile again while reading your posts. Thank you. It is wonderful.

3:47 PM  
Blogger thisisme said...

What a gorgeous post. I'm with you on the tatt - having something for that long which can sag - and what if I hate it? Some committment scares the bejesus out of me too - my longest committment so far has been to my 5 year old cat.

6:55 PM  
Blogger soul&body said...


humm...i would like to have a tatoo, a little one, but i still dont know what!! ;)

8:11 PM  
Blogger Monica said...

I have a tattoo on my inner right wrist of a purple lightning bolt. It didn't hurt at all but I got a bad case of buyer's remorse right after... Now I love it and I get a kick out of telling people it's a birthmark...because I'm a superhero :)

9:43 PM  
Blogger lemonade said...

its good that you know where you are in life..and if you're ok with being where you are and i don't think anybody else has the right to question you...

10:27 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Johnny Depp got a tattoo that said "Winona Forever" when he was dating Winona Ryder.

Of course that relationship didn't last. The tattoo did. :)

11:34 PM  
Blogger ThanKwee said...

Can I ever relate to this post, PrincessB! I resisted getting a tattoo when all of my friends were getting one. Like you, the idea of something that permanent just frightened me. Would I always find a butterfly on my ass to be charming? How will that cool gothic symbol look when I'm 70 years old? Yikes!

And like you, I was always frightened of a mortgage. What if I decide to move and can't sell the house? Will a mortgage limit my freedom? I did finally cave in and purchase and inexpensive house (and the mortgage is paid in full now! yeah!)

Hold on to your freedom as long as you can, I say. Travel. Have fun. Live! :)

Now let's see if I can get this to post the first time... It can't be that difficult! Okay, I'll practice here... aiqxjxyk

damn! I am word verification impared.

okay, it's qbgpf

12:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a couple of tattoo's. And around here it seems everybody has at least one. Now they are too much the "norm"~so actually, you're not conforming to the tattooo conformists who thought they were non-conformists...make sense?

And as for your future, you sound like you have a pretty good head on your shoulders.
Whatever is meant to be will be...and you will end up exactly where you are supposed to.

12:54 AM  
Blogger Living On Video said...

"However, commitment to certain things frighten me. I hate the idea of getting pinned down and not being able to do anything about it.."

Oh yes, now you are talking. :p

12:54 AM  
Blogger Living On Video said...

Oh, and talking about tattoos, I was never against the idea or anything, but I just never wanted to get it done, cause I hate the pain that comes with it...

Three years down the line, I have three tattoos, and want more, and I still believe I have low threshold of pain.

12:58 AM  
Blogger Behind Blue Eyes said...

You're young (I assume) don't worry, be happy. You've got plenty of time before you pick up the ol' ball and chain in whichever form you choose to pick it up in. Enjoy yourself. It's all good.

1:19 AM  
Blogger Behind Blue Eyes said...

Oh, by the way. I read an article once in the Riverfront Times (a Saint Louis Periodical) where they were comparing St. Louisians and Bostonians. We in Saint Louis have a term for certain ill-bred people. We call the hooziers. According to this article, Bostonians call the Mass-holes. Is this true? Very funny!

1:39 AM  
Blogger Dushti said...

Wonderful comparison ! Certain things in our life cannot be undone just like these tattoos!

1:42 AM  
Blogger Shamash said...

im getting a permanent tatoo done sumtimenext week


1:49 AM  
Blogger Crashdummie said...

Henna tatoos are wicked but as everything else, it needs time.

I just love the way you connect everything.

Comittmentphobic, hell yeah!

3:25 AM  
Blogger Photogirl said...

here, here, sister!

Commitment to anything is scary. I laughed at the part about the mobile phone because when I signed my two year contract for mine (over two years ago) I had all kinds of thoughts "what if I hate this company?" "what if I move?" etc. etc.

Anyway, there is something to be said for a relatively care-free life when the only person you have to commit to is yourself. I say, enjoy the commitment free lifestyle for as long as you can :)

3:39 AM  
Blogger Arcturus said...

File this entry as a chapter in Princess Banter's Book of Life. Call it, "Chapter 7: Princess Banter and the Tao of Tattoology as Metaphor for the Human Search for That Which Is Eternally Good."

I'll buy the book, Your Majesty. And the exercise work out video that goes with it.

4:48 AM  
Blogger Sumera said...

Marriage is a big step. I know its soemthing everyone says, but it is. You no longer focus on yourself only but need to have the input of anther. And same for him/her.

Your time will come when its meant to be! In the meantime, do what your doing and make something of yourself. Be sure of what you want, and seek that out in whatevr you do :)

5:30 AM  
Blogger Sumera said...

oooh, I forgot to add - nice blog!

5:31 AM  
Blogger it's the little things... said...

I wasn't always a commitment phobe - but I'm headed that way now, at 42. The only thing in the world I am committed to is raising my children.
I can't even imagine marrying ever again!

6:43 AM  
Blogger foam said...

great analogy. i've always been committed to any relationship i was in...
even if it lasted for only a day...
did i ever want to commit to get married? hell, no...way to scary.
when i met my husband i never would have thought we'd still be together 24 years later. marriage was the furthest from both of our minds..
some things just fall in your lap.

9:03 AM  
Blogger drips of paint said...

Hi princess,

I never want a tattoo for that exact reason.

I tend to favour walking my own pace. But then for myself I just did not know if I was simply enjoying the slower pace or I was afraid to go for the plunge. It was such a fine line.

How about ... makes a few more mistakes, and thru the process of elimination, pick yourself up a lifelong companion first, then the rest may fall into place.

Is it really possible to know if one is really ready and prepared without taking the plunge?


9:04 AM  
Blogger drips of paint said...

By the way I was only thinking out loud and not meant to be any answer.

Your post always made me think, sometimes too loud.


9:13 AM  
Blogger exile said...

yeah, i'm of the same mind set. i can't see my self getting a tattoo just because i can't decide on something to be on my body forever.

although, if i'm going to have something on my body forever, it's going to be a hot chicky chick... and i know just the one

1:10 PM  
Blogger Vengelyne said...

Everything in life is a gamble. You may like something right now and may not like it later on. People don't change, but feelings do.

I think I'm ready for commitments, but am I able to live up to them once I'm entangled with them is another question. =)

2:21 PM  
Blogger Irresistible Desires... said...

Oh..i dint have jitters but lately have been..
so i really relate to it...

2:39 PM  
Anonymous Twilight Fairy said...

thanks for the visit..and I really identify with the "friends" post.

and it hurts so much when your "definition" of friend turns out to be different from someone else's who you thought was a friend!

3:13 PM  
Blogger Jeet said...

Nice blog lady..

12:43 AM  
Blogger Jennifer McK said...

Being careful is better than jumping in completely blind.
Even with a good idea of what is coming, mortgages, investments, retirement and career choices are still confusing and scary.
The only way I could do a mortgage was "one day at a time". If I started thinking about 30 years, when I'd be 68, I'd go nuts.

5:11 AM  
Blogger Xavier Onassis said...

OK, I'm trying to finish up my blogging and start supper and don't have time (unfortunately) to read 51 previous comments. So I apologize if someone else has already pointed this out.

But your aversion to commitment is familiar to me.

You should probably change the name of your blog to Prince Banter because you are clearly a guy.

I totally agree about the tatoos.

I doubt seriously if I would have the job I have today if I had that Zig-Zag man tatoo on my forehead that I thought would be "really cool" back in the summer of '69.

Moses forgot the 11th Commandment. "Never Do Anything That Can't Be Undone."

8:02 AM  
Blogger nasia said...

Mehndi does fade away, and then it doesnt look good enough..
I feel most of the commitments we end up in are stuff we jst begin off without thinking on a life time scale. And then life jst happens..
I totally agree with yr mortgage thing though..Y dont u reply to ur comments ?:-(

5:55 AM  
Blogger Lucid Darkness said...

This was another brilliant post! I loved the way you moved from the tattoo-issue to those of long-term commitment and settling down.

Uncertainty does kill. I mean, how can you be sure of where you want to go? How can you know that you'll be happy with your decision all your life? Then again, maybe it's just me and the fact that I still have a long way to go.

You write very well and I love reading what you write. Yayness!

12:25 PM  
Blogger Vik said...

WOW.. that is exactly how I feel and traumatized thinking about not settling down when most of folks my age are already fathers and mothers !
I am just not prepared and there is lot of pressure from folks around very scary all that...

Good write up and a nice, seamless flow in connecting two worlds... good one...

5:07 PM  

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