Confession: I can’t remember if I had my lip pierced three times, or four times. Not, like, three or four different piercings. Same piercing, same hole redone three (or four) different times.
This is what I do know:
I got my lip pierced for the first time at that place in the mall—and it was sooooo coooollllll!!! The best part of working there was the constant access to people who professionally wielded needles, and when everyone was bored on a slow day it was not that hard to talk me into getting some body modification. On a lark I went back into the piercing room and BAM! Lip pierced, cool factor elevated. I loved that thing! My lip got fat right away which was super sexy, and I absolutely thought I was pulling off this subtle-cool thing, like, “Yeah, I’m cool, but whatever…” Sadly, in an equally spontaneous moment of fury, I took it out (because I was sick of my dad making fun of it). That fresh hole snapped shut like a Venus flytrap—and my piercing was gone forever…
This is where I have to fill in the gaps:
Let’s call this Episode II—it was second semester of freshman year, I was still nineteen but with newly made college friends! It was “the morning after”. The previous day had consisted of me getting my lip re-pierced, for the cool factor, and then some heavy drinking. I was asking around for Advil because the right half of my bottom lip was the size of a golf-ball. Fresh new piercing, full of blood, throbbing. People were looking at me funny, but I laughed it all off because I was cool-but-whatever about it.
This we will call Episode III—sometime later, in the spring, I become conscious. It is morning! Again these events follow much partying from the night before, and suddenly I am furious because my lip ring has fallen out! I can’t find it! I typically drank until I blacked out so I don’t know if it was lost in my sleep or during the festivities. Noooooo!!!!!!!! HOW can this be happening again?! It is very hard to be cool-but-whatever about this. I have no time to look for the missing stud because I am late to work at the bikini barista stand (my new job!) and I know my piercing will close up, again.
Episodes II & III live in my memory as sharp snippets, like mental GIFs, and I know that they happened and that they are separate instances. I also know that in one of these situations I foolishly had my lip pierced twice in a 24 hour period of time because I had gotten drunk and lost the jewelry. Did I lose the jewelry in Episode II therefore my lip was swollen from having it re-re-pierced that morning? Then I must have still had the same piercing in Episode III. Is Episode III when I gave it all up as a bad (painful and expensive) habit and let it close for good? Or did I have it done the night before Episode III meaning that I went straight after work to have it re-re-pierced? Where did the piercing go between Episodes II & III?!
I was up all night before I wrote this post trying to piece this timeline together. It is completely baffling to me that I literally cannot recall the details of what happened. Who doesn’t know how many times they had their face pierced?!
Those couple of years between high school and your twenties—when you are unceremoniously kicked out of the nest—are kind of overwhelming. For me they were the literal garbage compactor of my life; I did a lot in a short period of time and most of it was trash. I was completely in between worlds, one foot in childhood (because I lived at home where nothing changed) and one foot in adulthood (wtf is adulthood?). My parents treated me the same way they always had but I had this new context—college—and I was trying really hard to find my place. I think the tattoos and piercings were a way for me to exert physical control over my life, but then again I kept screwing it up! I was pretty lost, but I thought I was “having soooo much fun!!! (picture a white girl dancing on a table)” I just kept charging forward at full speed until I crashed into something. What a mess! What a scary, confusing, thank-God-its-over mess. However, I’d be remiss to not admit that I have learned something about myself from all of that: If I make up my mind to do something, it’s only a matter of time. Even if it takes three or four tries.