Planned Parenthood occupies an oversized place in the public imagination. Depending on which side of the political aisle you’re on, it’s either a giant pink fist of resistance or Satan’s personal bachelor pad.
So going to Planned Parenthood might sound a little bit disappointing, because in person it’s just… a doctor’s office. There are uncomfortable chairs in the waiting room, brochures that look like they were created in a graphics class in college, and background music still at the wrong volume and still 10 years old. There weren’t even any protesters outside when I went there last week because the Planned Parenthood I usually go to does not perform abortion.
I went to have my contraceptive implant replaced. I have had a subcutaneous Nexplanon implant in my arm for the past five years, which makes it my longest lasting relationship. This little piece of plastic noodles and I have been through a lot together. I called her “Xena”.
But five years is the life of the device approved by the Food and Drug Administration. So I went to bring it out and a new one appeared. The nurse practitioner was the same one who placed it in me in August 2016, so I felt like the loop was satisfactorily filled to have it started over again. (Also, she has very soft hands, which comes in handy when putting plastic between layers of skin.) If you were wondering, yes, it hurts a bit, but it’s about the same level of pain as filling a cavity at the dentist, and I imagine it definitely goes a lot faster than childbirth. Additionally, Nelly Furtado’s 2006 song “Promiscuous” was playing over the speakers during the procedure, which seemed a bit inappropriate for a doctor’s office, but the comedic effect was unbeatable.
I asked the medical assistant if I could keep the old implant. She said yes. What she actually said was, “Let me check it out. No one has ever asked this question before. (I’ve always had a knack for asking unusual questions. At least that’s a knack for me. Maybe not so great for people who have to answer the weird questions my brain comes up with.) I wanted to frame it. , and my lovely new boyfriend not only thought it was a good idea, but he also found me a huge ostentatious 22×22 inch frame with kelly green matte backing and did such a good job for it. ‘frame that my mom hung on the wall as modern art that goes with the color scheme of the room. (I think he’s a keeper.)
It’s been a big week to lay down and have needles in my arms, actually, because I also got my third tattoo, courtesy of Courtney Cavanaugh from Lionheart Tattoo in Portland. It’s a sword. Specifically, a big one – the entire length of my arm, from my shoulder to about an inch above my elbow. More precisely still, it is about Andúril, the sword of Aragorn in “The Lord of the Rings”.
The process took about two hours, and it hurt like the dickens, especially all the shading to give the sword depth, although the only time I actually said “ow” was when I bit my tongue by accident. But it was worth it, because it looks like a pen drawing from one of Peter Jackson’s notebooks landed on my arm.
She even managed to get the tiny, delicate elven runes on the blade, which I was afraid wouldn’t even be physically possible. (It translates to, “I am Andúril who was once Narsil, the sword of Elendil. The slaves of Mordor will run away from me.” As you can see, I am very hip and extremely cool.) In the LOTR tradition , Andúril is forged from the shards of a previously broken sword, Narsil. I liked this idea, that you can take broken pieces and make something stronger.
I get a tattoo to celebrate every year of sobriety that I accomplish. My aunt recently asked my mom, “What is she going to do if she lives to 90?” (The implication being that if I keep up the good work of sobriety, I will get a ton of tattoos one day.)
Mom shrugged and said, “I’ll be dead by then, so I don’t care.” Now she was mostly joking. We all agree that it is better for me to look like a sailor on leave than to drink like a sailor on leave.
But, in the end, she has no one to blame but herself. My parents taught me that my body was nobody’s business other than mine, and that as long as I didn’t hurt anyone, I could do whatever I wanted with it. And so I have.
Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a millennial from Maine. She can be contacted at:
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