I am taking an online travel writing class that I had signed up for back in October but fell a little bit sidetracked to getting around to. Sometimes I’m convinced I’m not all too intelligent, because I’ve tried sitting down three times already this week to read the first chapter and I’ve failed miserably. It could also be that my eyes are sick and tired of staring at a computer screen, and my brain aches in protest. Either way, I am going to put aside one night a week to conquer each chapter.
My goal with this course is to continue to build my identity as a travel writer, harness the connections I’ve already made and continue to seek new ones. I am going to really hold myself accountable this time around (and I hope you guys hold me accountable, too) as I am trying to shift my focus from where it was to where I want it to be.
In an effort to sort of find my voice and make myself stick to a schedule of sorts, I am going to try posting travel quotes every Thursday, hence the title Travel Quotes Thursday. They could be about travel, maybe a passage from something I read, maybe a link to an interesting article – but some sort of inspiration of sorts for those days when my life goals feel out of reach.
So, as a little bit of Travel Quotes Thursday, here we go:
For the story.
I know. You’re probably thinking, what the fuck. Is she trying to pass that off as one of her travel quotes? It isn’t much of a quote to some people, but it’s permanently tattooed on my wrist, so I thought I would start it off with my quote about how I am trying to live my life.
I got this tattoo back in November, and it has both a literal and symbolic meaning. I was commissioned for my first big-time paid freelance story for the Sydney Morning Herald after I contacted an editor with an e-mail filled with ideas. One of my ideas was about tattoo artists, which she liked, and so I was given the go ahead to write the piece. Not only that, but they liked the idea so much that it was turned into a multimedia video. In the end, the format of the piece changed from a feature article to a first person narrative, and it happened about 48 hours before I was set to fly home when I had eight million other things to take care of. I got it done, though, and I felt so happy to have made that process happen.
So, I got the tattoo for the literal story I was working on about the tattoo artist. I had always wanted something on my wrist, and I always thought I was going to get a globe (which is why my best friend Laura bought me a globe charm to hang on my necklace). I played around with a sketch that first day I spent in the tattoo shop, and this young Swiss couple getting tattooed in the shop tried to convince me that I should get it. “You won’t regret it, because it’s something you wanted in that moment. You did what you wanted when you wanted. No reason to regret it.”
I remember thinking it was easier said than done. How could they live so freely? (Here I am this world traveler, and I look at getting a tattoo as living freely.) This kid and his girlfriend just walked straight in to the shop and each got two tattoos like they were buying things to make for dinner. A little bit of debating on where and how big, but within a few minutes they were settled.
I went home that night showing my flatmates the globe stencil the artist drew out for me as a possible design. Because I wanted something so small and inconspicuous, it couldn’t exactly be drawn to scale. I also had always hesitated with getting a globe because I never knew which face of the earth to get. Do I get Europe, because my love for travel started when I moved to Italy in 2007? Do I get Asia, a place where I spent two years of my life? Do I get Australia, a place that had become my home or North America, the place where I can always go home to? Decisions, decisions.
I woke up the next morning and simply told my Irish flatmate, “I’m getting ‘for the story’ written on my wrist”. And like that, we were off.
I spent most of the morning interviewing, observing, taking notes (and later leaving behind my reporter’s notebook in the tattoo parlour – rookie move) until finally the time came for our tattoos. The artist asked me what font I wanted it in. I sat there, What font? I have no idea what font. I didn’t think it was that complicated.
“Can I just get my handwriting?” He handed me a pencil and some paper, and I started writing away.
I have a bit of a weird handwriting where I combine script and print, and so it took several trial and errors for it to be the right size without being too big for me to handle.
Once it was all done, the artist made a stencil copy that he was able to slap on to my wrist like a temporary tattoo. He peeled back the paper and I looked at my wrist. My dad is going to fucking kill me. Will I get a job? People are going to think I’m such a degenerate with a tattoo. Will I get a job? Wait why am I doing this?
Mind you I was getting three very simple words in a pretty hidden area (I’m always wearing bracelets), but I could only see myself as coming out and looking like the female version of Dennis Rodman.
I sat down in the chair, put my wrist forward, and the artist asked if I liked everything about the tattoo. Was I ready?
“No. Wait, what? No. Wait, is this going to hurt? Wait what if I throw up?I don’t think I’ve eaten. Wait I am definitely going to cry. Wait okay so how does this work – explain it again. What does this feel like – waxed? No – well once actually, when I was 18 I got a bikini wax. I held my friend Francesca’s hand the whole time. I never, ever put wax on my body again after that. Oh shit, wait – it’s less painful? Stop. Wait no I don’t think I want this. What if I regret it?”
Aha, the artist said. That’s what you’re worried about. You’re not scared. You’re worried you’re going to regret it.
Spot on. As I went through five minutes of putting forward my wrist forward and then retracting it, all I could think of was, What if I regret this? Do I really want this? What am I doing?
Despite all that I’ve done with my life and all the things I’ve seen, I tend to care too much about what others think. I don’t have the thickest of skin, and I place too much value on what other people think when I really shouldn’t give a fuck.
I also put myself out there a lot with all that I do and wear my heart on my sleeve, but I’m still quite hesitant to fully let go. I have this overwhelming fear of being disappointed, so I go into everything with a negative mentality so as to not be so let down when it turns out something doesn’t go my way. It’s a mindset that’s been ingrained in my head since I was younger, and I am doing my best to correct it. My dad used to tell me I was my own worst enemy. (He still does.)
Anyway, I let it settle for a second. I’m a writer. I am constantly working, even when it seems like I am just bumming around. (My little brother often tells me my life is too hard and I should take a break.) I am constantly after a story, whether it’s with my words and my attempt at photography. There is no better tattoo for me to get than this one. And really, like I said before – who gives a fuck? I looked at it as a new day, the smallest of smallest of smallest steps forward in caring a little less about what people think and caring a little bit more about doing something in the spur of the moment, living outside the box in a different way than I’ve been doing it already. For the story, right?
With that being said, I am attempting to take things as they are and as they come. It doesn’t always work, sometimes my emotions and mind run rampant and get the best of me, but when I find that stability and focus, and when I find that even keeled ground, I know that I am doing all right. I wouldn’t change a thing, I don’t regret a thing. I am looking at every experience as one that I do or one that happens for the story.