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On Friday, I had my first tattoo. I say ‘first’ because I’d already to decide to have another one before this one was even finished.

It was a birthday present from Herbert, although my birthday was way back in September. It took us this long to arrange it. If I was going to mark myself for life, I wanted to make sure that just the right person did the job.

He was worth waiting for. It is quite the most lovely tattoo I have ever seen. Well, it was. It’s now going through its scaly, wrinkly phase, but I’m assured it will be gorgeous again in a couple of weeks. Already, fragments are peeling away to reveal the true image underneath.

It feels like emerging from a chrysalis. Underneath is a miraculous new layer, clear and beautiful. I am resolutely not picking at it, but it’s hard. I’m almost euphoric about it, this feeling of owning my own skin. I’ve wanted to do this for years, but always wondered whether I’d change my mind. Getting my tattoo is an act of stating that I know myself, and that I trust myself to make good choices.

Here it is when it was still nice and fresh. I chose a swallow because I love watching them swooping around every summer. No puns, please.

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