(Two posts today: scroll down for pupster pics)
I’m not a big jewellery wearer. I had my ears pierced like all the other girls at school, but only occasionally – then or now – can I be bothered to wear earrings. Necklaces, rings, bracelets – not really my thing; I rarely wear my engagement ring and even my wedding ring sometimes annoys me by feeling heavy or odd.
I remember as a youngish child watching a clip about a woman in a wheelchair who was using piercing as a way of reclaiming her feeling of ownership and control of her body. What an interesting idea to use body-modification hardware to subvert the body-modifying hardware that had been forced upon her by her body’s limitations; I didn’t think of it entirely in those terms at the time, of course, but I was – and have remained – fascinated by body modification and its proponents’ motives.
In my second year of university – through a series of life-shaping experiences, friendships and encounters – I essentially became the person I am now. Strange that I can pinpoint it so exactly (and perhaps I am mistaken to think I can). It was the year I swapped my glasses for contacts and it was also the year I got my first deliberate and symbolic body modification: my nose stud.
At the time I told people how blank my face looked without the bracketing metal frames and that I thought it needed a punctuation mark. I was in a writing class at the time and working through ideas of identity and image. Now I wonder what was really behind that desire to puncture my nostril. Later, perhaps the following year, I added a piercing to the top of my right ear to balance the nose stud.
My nose stud came with me to teach in Greece, much to the disquiet of some of the locals, and was still firmly in place when I added to my self-determined body mods: my nipple rings. These are both easier and harder to explain – easier because I know exactly why they were important to me; harder because, well, it’s a bit embarrassing! My nipples were “shy” and I was shy about them being so. I wanted them to be more forthcoming so that I could be more confident.
By a fluke of timing, TA was the first (and only, needless to say) boyfriend to get the pierced-nipples me. I can’t remember the exact timing – I think it was before we were married – but one night I woke up and felt over-burdened by metal. Out came the nose stud, the earring and the nipple rings, and I felt odd about leaving them behind, but lighter too. And that was that – five or so years of no deliberate body mods. Of course, all the mods that life has left on me have remained, I’ve even accrued some new scars (although none look set to rival my early collection of surgical cuts).
Washing my face last night I was looking in the mirror and frowning at my monthly dose of acne (almost 30 and still spotty). Suddenly I wanted to put a stud back in my nose. I don’t know if the two things were connected – putting a full stop to spots? – but I got a jolt of excitement at the thought of reclaiming my piercing.
Ten minutes later, after faffing with an ice cube and passing a needle through the scar, my nose was pierced again. I went to bed on fire – with ideas, creativity, energy and, probably, adrenaline – a sense of renaissance and return. And so here I sit, conscious of the thin metal spear through my nostril, thinking I wonder how long this will feel right for and what does it signify?