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Tough Cookie

I love summer mornings in Paris. The other day I had a moment of freedom and met a friend for coffee in Place des Vosges. He biked down with a hangover and we caught up over big cafe cremes and a cigarette as the sun poured over the square.

I told him about my recent split and he smiled. "Every time I see you you've lived another life." We laughed. He gave me a huge hug at the metro and told me I was brave.

On the metro I spoke to a stranger from Israel about love and religion. He said that all the women he loved never thanked him. When he got off at his stop I smiled and gave him the biggest "Merci" I could.

I got off a few stops later in Boulogne, a neighbourhood being coined as the new Brooklyn, for my appointment at Tough Cookie.  Ever since my friend mentioned this streetwear shop meets tattoo parlour (that also sells cookies), I knew I had to go.

I've been trying to get my tattoo done in several cities now - LA, Toronto, Toulouse and Berlin - but it never worked out.  My appointment with Tough Cookie came together seamlessly and I took it as a sign.

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I arrived early for my appointment to check out the store.  It tugged at my heart strings with its selection of Obey tanks, Nike shoes, big fat skull rings, and even almond m&m's.

While I was looking around Arnaud, No the Drifer, came up and introduced himself.  I pulled out my notebook to show him my mom's handwriting for the tattoo and he asked if he could look through my sketches.  He complimented my work and immediately put me at ease.  We went downstairs to the tattoo parlour and he asked if I was nervous.  I said that I was more excited than afraid and he seemed relieved.  He said that the first one always feels like a big deal.  It's permanent.  You want it to mean something.  But once you've had one tattoo you stop putting so much weight on it.

I lay down on my side and breathed carefully through the process so that he could get clean lines.  While the needle was uncomfortable at times I found the whole experience really relaxing.  It was done before I knew it and the result was exactly what I wanted.

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We had some extra time and ink so he offered me another.  I had been wanting a small simple shape on my finger so we went for it.  It was impulsive but I felt calm and happy about my decision.

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Afterwards I walked out into the sunshine feeling relaxed and content.  I felt comfortable in my skin.  Happy about where my life is going.

Like the first tattoo, I used to worry about everything and the lasting mark it would make.  When the life I had created fell apart I let go of this.  I can only control so much.  I don't know where I'll be ten years from now.  What I know is I'm enjoying the right now immensely and that my life is full of love.

And in five years, ten years, twenty years, I can only hope that I'll be living my life the same way.  With love scribbled on my ribcage and a tattoo on my finger to remind me.

Tough Cookie Shop 17 rue d'issy 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt Métro : Marcel Sembat Ligne 9 tel . + 33 (0) 6 216 441 7

You can give some Tough Cookie love here so they can open a bigger + better shop!  Get some sweet swag as a thank you.

GeneralGillian Young