A week after my then husband walked out the door (and yes, that’s literally, figuratively and any other way you might take that), I walked into a tattoo and piercing shop on University Ave. I’m often interminably indecisive when it comes to doing things for me, but it seems that in the mind-altering state of life in crisis I become a woman of decisions. So I walked in an announced to the guy with as much metal in him as was on the display that I wanted a third piercing, a cartilage piercing.
At this point, I was still swathed in all sorts of denial but also beginning to toy with bargaining. If I could just hold still enough, rebel enough, hurt enough, I could make it all go away. Piercing was a blood-letting of sorts, a sacrifice to make it better. What “it” was, however, could not yet be named because that would make it real. I also still believed that I was brilliant at hiding things and therefore looked entirely healthy, stable and sane to the man I was asking to create even more holes in me.
To his credit, one of the first things the guy said to me was, “Have you eaten anything today?”. Duh, of course not. Who the hell bothers to eat food when the rafters are falling down all around? (Note: Divorce = incredibly efficient weight loss plan. Also good if you’d like to experience repeated panic attacks.) So I was instructed to go down the street and eat something before he would touch me.
I returned and picked out the jewelery and he explained to me the cartilage shredding needle they used to make the hole large enough to feed the earrings through. Somewhere in the midst of his patient ministrations, I blew my oh-so-carefully constructed cover.
I thought I was loosing my marriage.
I needed something that would hurt in a way I could actually control.
I needed to make the catharsis happen.
Shockingly, he didn’t laugh at me. He nodded as if he’d already figured it out and instructed me to breathe out as he fed the needle and visualize all the fear being shredded away. To this day I still think he was brilliant. It took every fiber of me not to cry at his fellowship. The needle itself was nothing, in fact, I think it felt good. He did a matched set, one in each ear.
I took care of the piercings for the first week but that fell off rather quickly. I don’t know if that’s the reason they never healed correctly or simply because one isn’t meant to drill holes in their ear cartilage. They continued to weep for years, always faintly sore — not enough to take them out, but certainly not completely healed. But I thought of them as a part of me, a small, tender piece of my new self-definition.
All of this was years ago. Ancient history. Long enough to fall in love with someone new and “move on”. Or forward anyway.
So Saturday morning I woke up and checked all my earrings; I sleep with them in. I took my hand away holding the stainless steel loop that used to be in the top right piercing. These things are usually a bugger to get out and this can out painlessly. I tried to put it back in and couldn’t get it through. The hole is half-healed and absolutely painless.
I’m considering taking the other one out, but it’s difficult to give up a piece of self-definition, even if that’s exactly the part that hurts.
And yes, this post was entirely about earrings.