December 1995. My best friend Kim and I hopped on a plane and headed west. Destination: San Francisco. Neither of us had started college the September after high school graduation, and the plan was to go visit the Academy of Art College to see if I wanted to attend. We stayed at the Ramada Limited near Lombard Street. It was a quick trip, just a few days to make the decision.
I fell in love for the first time walking back to the hotel one night. I thought I had been in love before, but this was different. There was a moment when I turned around while walking up one of San Fran’s dangerously steep streets, and the lights that surrounded me, glistening at different heights in all directions, made my heart melt. This was it. I was going to move here. When I left a few days later, I left my heart in San Francisco.
When I returned at the beginning of January, I was alone. Strange place, strange roommate, far, far away from family and friends. My second day there I met Brian. Brian was a boy…I was a girl. Can I make it any more obvious? He was a punk. She did ballet…blah, blah, blah…he had really baggy clothes. (If you didn’t follow that, you never dated a skater boy.)
Long story short, Brian was a graphic design student and we were madly in love by the end of our first date. We went to the SFMOMA and laughed at how a white canvas with a single black dot was considered art. He took me for pizza in Union Square. Blondie’s. He said it was the best pizza ever. (It was horrible, but huge slices and cheap…great for struggling college kids.) He had a single tattoo between his shoulder blades, sexy tribal art that he had designed himself. A few months in and he had convinced me to get a tattoo as well.
We headed off to Haight Street and made our way into one of the world renowned tattoo shops. (I do not remember the name.) The tattoo artist was pretty impressed with Brian’s design and said he’d do my tattoo for a mere $50. I had mentioned to my parents that I wanted to get one and they were adamant that I not do it. My mother said don’t charge it to her credit card, so I charged it to her credit card. (They also paid for my second one a few months later, also against their will.) Somewhere in a basement in CT, there is a picture of me, messy blonde hair clipped up, looking mildly buzzed with my brand new tattoo in my dorm room. He was proud of me. (I was not buzzed but the rush from getting a tattoo was alive and well.)
Fast forward 19 years and that tattoo is coming off. Brian and I lasted a little over a year, and broke up a few times for various reasons. San Francisco turned out to be a little too far, and I moved back east and ended up in Miami. His tattoos stayed with me. Brian is the one ex I do not have contact with. I tried to find him once Facebook surfaced, but he was nowhere to be found. Two years ago, while working at WTNH, a photographer and I were bored and snooping around the internet and stumbled across his name, listed as a hair stylist, still in San Fran. We clicked on the salon link and there he was all tatted up, crazy curly skater boy hair and further research showed he wasn’t gay. (Any female who discovers her ex is a hair stylist will assume he’s gay, or her family will.) I subsequently found him on FB, friend requested him, he accepted long enough to stalk my page, and then unfriended me. Ouch.
I don’t hate the tattoo. I don’t think I regret it. It’s just time. (I’ll keep the little heart on my back.) Both of my tattoos have dots in the design…single black dots. I’ve been thinking about getting the leg tattoo removed for a while and it was on the list of things to do last year and didn’t get done. So, this Thursday, I will venture into a little shop, with a photographer in tow, and we will begin our story on tattoo removal.
Rumor has it it will hurt. From what I’ve read it will hurt less now than it would have four years ago. New technology, less treatment time. I will have fun with the story and laugh at how it all came about. Sorry, Brian, it just wasn’t meant to be.
I wonder if I can just leave the dot?