Elizabeth Rawson, 26, was at the wrong place—a tattoo parlor—at the wrong time: in the middle of her brief and only fling with fanatic religion.
Growing up, she had always wanted a tattoo. As her 18th birthday approached, she could think of little else, until she started going to church with a friend. “I caved in to the peer pressure; my best friend was telling me I was going to go to hell,” says Rawson. At the church, she was “born again.”
She devoted her passion to her new-found religion, pushing her plans to get a tattoo to the backburner. Then something lit the fire under those forgotten plans. Her parents forbade her from getting one. She picked up her friend and went immediately to Body Graphics in Temecula.
“We were looking at all the designs on the wall when my friend said, ‘How about this one?’ and she was pointing to a cross. I said, ‘What if I don’t want to be a Christian anymore?’ and she gave me this horrified look. So I said ‘Well, I guess I’ll always be a Christian.’”
No sooner said than done. By the end of her day, she wore a cross on her skin at the base of her neck. “So that short little period in my life is permanently engraved.”
Soon after getting the tat, Rawson began to feel less “at home” in the church. “For three months of my life, I got swept up in [Christianity], but all I found at church was a bunch of hypocrites.”
After three months, she decided she was born well enough the first time around and returned to her free-thinking worldview. Her tattoo came to represent her youthful brashness, and she hides it as well as she can.
The tattoo has made her working life difficult. She’s in the tourism industry, so she needs to be as PC as possible. “You can’t be one extreme or the other when you work with tourists,” she said. “At least I can grow my hair long and wear turtlenecks in the winter.”
In the future, she hopes to have the tattoo removed. She is, however, already planning her next one—a butterfly, with the map of the world on its wings, tattooed on the small of her back. “I’ve always been global-minded—that hasn’t changed—but I’m not single-minded about religion.”
The worst part about her tattoo is that everytime somebody sees it, they ask about it. “Then I have to explain this whole stupid story,” she says, with the jaded tone only years of telling an embarrassing story can give a woman. (Peter Surowski)