Ruminations on Boston Comic Con 2015, getting inked, and Agent Carter
By now, it has probably been deleted. But for a few glorious hours on Saturday afternoon, an image of my right bicep existed on Hayley Atwell’s phone.
It began months ago, when my friend Aubrey and I decided that we would take ourselves to Boston Comic Con to see the sights. Somehow, in the midst of the discussions of what to do and where to stay, the first thing we agreed upon and settled was that we would be getting Agent Carter-inspired tattoos. We decided on an image of the already iconic red hat that Peggy wears in the first moments of her very own show, with an old-timey-tattoo ribbon bearing a quotes we would each pick for ourselves.
And so, BCC 2015 came, and after five hours of driving (traffic was murder), the friend I’d only ever known online was a real live person in a real hotel lobby, and the weekend could begin.
Now, Boston is my old stomping grounds. I went to school there for four years; I lived in a dorm and in an apartment there; I worked and played there. I also got my first tattoo there in January 2014, a very simple black design and a short quote on my shoulder. So I suggested that we head to that parlor for our tattoo excursion, and we decided to check in with the artists on Friday night, once the day’s con festivities were over, to get something designed and make an appointment for the following day.
As we found out later, they were taking walk-ins all day at the shop. Before I knew it, I was signing my arm over to the care of a man named Edwin, and after yawning a few times (it had been a long day and it was the first time I’d gotten to lay down since 6:30 that morning) and gritting my teeth against the final pains of the artwork, my arm was complete, at last.
It isn’t even about the look on Hayley Atwell’s face when I told her that my friend and I had gotten Peggy-chic tattoos. It isn’t about realizing she held true to her, “OH MY GOD I WANT TO TWEET THOSE” and actually, oh my God, tweeted them. Yes, that was ridiculously cool — and yes, I do have nearly 2000 likes on Hayley Atwell’s Twitter now, thank you very much.
For me, it’s about carrying that red hat and that quote on my skin for the rest of my life, and spending my life living up to it all. I chose, “I know my value,” a defining phrase for Peggy Carter, a succinct summing up of all the things I want to say and do, and the things I never did, and the things I might, and the things I will. It means that I am worth existing, and nothing that anyone else says or does invalidates that simple fact. I like to think I knew — and believed — this before Peggy came into my life, but her eloquence and passion, as always, inspired me.
At work today, one of my colleagues asked what would happen if, one day, I decided I didn’t like Agent Carter anymore. And I realized that something that trivial doesn’t matter. Sure, the show may go down the drain (I know, I know — for shame!) and I may fall out of love with it. But this permanent artwork on my arm means that, once upon a time, I spent a great weekend with a great friend, and we stayed up talking about writing and comics and fanfics and all manner of nerdy things. This hat is a reminder that a piece of me once existed in the same space as a woman I have truly grown to admire, and her words — from this quote on my arm to all the interviews she’s given — will always ring in my head and my heart. Hayley Atwell is quite possibly one of the most well-spoken women working in Hollywood today, and it was an honor to meet her and listen to her talk about sexism and diversity, and her hopes for the next season of Agent Carter and for her own life and career. She has given me something to aspire to and strive for, and that will outlast the show, no matter what happens next.
(Also, for the record, she’s super pretty in person.)