From Jes Kast-Keat
I was 18 when I got my first tattoo. I was sitting in my small Christian college dorm room and I knew that I was ready to get ink. I had known what I wanted since a mission trip in middle school where I first felt called to urban ministry. I gathered my friends and we drove to the parlor, making this middle school dream finally come true.
I remember the juxtaposition of my cheery pink sweater against the heavy metal music in the shop. My friends held my hand as the artist tenderly talked to me and as he tattooed a small cross and Jesus fish on my inner left ankle. That moment was painful, exhilarating, and it opened me up to the world of body art.
My parents come from an era where only a "certain kind" of person got a tattoo. When I came home and showed them my new piece of art they were hospitable, even though I know I was pushing the boundary of their idea of "what kind" of person gets a tattoo. I told them that this wouldn't be be my last tattoo. They loved that (sarcasm), but I was right; this college tattoo, conceived on a middle school mission trip, opened up the door for many more pieces of body art.
I look at tattoos as a living journal of my pilgrimage. Would I get a cross and Jesus fish today? No, it's too cliché. Yet was it important to me in my adolescent years? Yes. I don't regret that piece of art because it tells the story of where I was, who I was, and my process and progress along the way. Body art is a way of knowing who I am.