|My family, trying to get one of those cool jumping shots.|
I am 46 years old, and I just got my nose pierced. You may say it's part of a mid-life crisis, but there is much more to it than that...
When I turned 40 I really wanted to make my birthday a big deal, but it wasn't. I wanted to feel different somehow, wanted to make a statement. That was the first time I considered getting my nose pierced. I pictured a tiny stud that was barely visible...tasteful. I mentioned the idea to friends and they squelched my fun, obviously thinking I was crazy. So I had fun in my head, having fun simply by imagining actually doing it. ...Saying I never would, but it was fun to think about.
Then this summer my family got together at the beach for my Dad's 70th birthday. We all crammed together in a rented beach house and spent the week getting to know each other better. It was incredible.
On the second night of the trip, we gathered with drinks on the balcony in our nightly ritual of talk and laughter. That's when someone mentioned getting a tattoo.
And I said, "We should all get wave tattoos to commemorate this trip!"
This led us to all begin dreaming up where we could get tattoos and what our waves would look like.
Then my dad leaned in and said, "I'll pay for it."
And suddenly it was real. The conversation got serious.
But tattoos weren't really my thing. I told everyone, "What I always thought would be cool is to get my nose pierced."
My half-sister Jessica suddenly said, "Me too!" We began talking about the fun of the idea and also about our reservations...our ages, what people at work would think.
Then dad leaned in and added, "I'll pay for it."
And the planning actually began for real.
Every night we discussed the pros and cons. Who would get tattoos and who would get piercings. Who would do both. Would it hurt? We searched on our phones for ideas and motivation.
Then on the last full day of our trip, nine of us headed for the tattoo parlor in town. I got a little wave behind my ear and a simple stud on the left side of my nose. Everyone got a wave tattoo or a piercing, or both. Even Dad got a wave on his arm. I'm sure the employees of the place got a kick out of us.
Jessica and I kept looking at each other, marveling at the fact that we actually did it.
Back in Las Vegas, most reactions I got were positive. Some were reserved. Most people didn't comment at all, or didn't even notice. And that's okay.
What surprised me was the way my piercing made me feel. First of all, it was a memory of that awesome trip with my family...a souvenir of our bonding.
But more than that, it made me feel empowered. For several years now, I have felt the effects of aging...feeling not so attractive, older, very un-cool. I used to be a singer/dancer...dressed in costumes and makeup. I traveled to far-off places and went on adventures. I did things that average people didn't. But all the people I come into contact with now have no idea of who I used to be...who I am inside. I'm not the normal run-of-the-mill person with average ideas. I dream big! I am not a conformist! I think bigger than our simple day-to-day drudgery!
And that is what I felt my piercing said. It was a statement to anyone who saw me that I am more than I appear.
Then I developed a bump next to my piercing. The dermatologist did a biopsy several weeks later. Skin cancer.Talk about squelching my fun.
They did a mohs surgery to get rid of it, removing the stud and taking skin all around my piercing. Luckily they got it all in one try.
When I expressed my concern about the fact that this developed right after my piercing, the surgeon told me that skin cancer can be reactive, so it could have progressed due to the piercing. I had planned to get my nose pierced again after this healed, but he advised me against it. He said not to get my nose pierced again, because the skin cancer could happen again.
So, I am destined not to be cool.
I'm not sure what I will do to recapture the feeling that piercing gave me. I don't want to do anything drastic, but I need something.
Or, maybe the smarter thing is to try, daily, to do things that empower me. Get out there and make sure I am the person I want to be. Demonstrate it. Be it. Dream it. Do it.