Filthy Showers, Spur-of-the-Moment Tattoos, and Lessons to Last a Lifetime (Canada Part II)

Be sure to check out Part I of my Canada trip before diving into this cliffhanging finale

I woke up on the second morning of my Canada adventure feeling rested, and like the day before, I pushed myself to enjoy the morning instead of rushing. Once I was finally ready to go, I packed my belongings and drove down to the beach for a final swim before beginning the trek back to Ohio.

I learned my lesson from the day before when I had tried to apply body wash while dodging the rolling waves, so the second morning found me enjoying a swim like a normal human and then using the beach shower.

Side note about the shower: I posted a picture of it on my Instagram, and it turned out to be the post that the most people responded to. I would get questions asking if it was as dirty as it looked in the photo, challenges from people saying I hadn’t actually showered in it, and an overall concern for my health. I was touched by the thoughtfulness of my followers and can assure you that yes, I did use the sketchy shower. I guess that’s what happens when the only other option is bathing in a frigid lake.

Following the shower, I drove to the same coffee shop that I’d been to the day before and decided to stick around for a while to get some writing done while enjoying mediocre coffee and a delicious bagel. The time spent writing was both relaxing and productive, and I left the coffee shop feeling like I’d accomplished quite a bit.

Once I was on the road again (cue the Willie Nelson song), I popped in what I’d deemed my CD of the trip (Cleopatra by The Lumineers) and began the beautiful drive back to Ohio. As I drove out of town, I felt a wave of nostalgia, even though I’d only been there for two days. It was something about the peacefulness and freedom that made me fall in love with the town I stayed in.

I had been on the road for quite some time and was feeling content about the trip as a whole, but then it hit me. Had I really done something crazy that weekend? I began to think back through everything I’d done so far, and none of the activities stood out as being truly “crazy.” So I decided then and there to get a tattoo so I could make it a bonafide unforgettable weekend.

I’d thought about getting a tattoo in the past, but I’d never come close to actually getting one. That changed in Canada. I don’t know if it had to do with the excitement that I was feeling from the weekend or the plain ol’ urge to make the memories last forever, but I was ready to truly shatter my comfort zone.

However, finding a tattoo shop when you aren’t using a GPS can be tough, so I employed the method of driving down the main street of large towns that I passed through in hopes of stumbling across a tattoo parlor. I had almost given up hope since the first two I stopped at didn’t take walk-ins, but then I finally struck gold.

I had driven into a thriving beach town, and it was there that I passed a sign for a tattoo parlor that was accepting walk-ins. I promptly parked my car and began walking towards the building where I would “get inked.” Soon, the bravado from earlier vanished, and my walk began to slow as I drew closer and closer to the building. I even considered turning around and continuing the drive, but something inside of me pushed me to go for it.

So after selecting the tattoo, signing what felt like hundreds of forms (surprise, surprise, I can’t sue them if I don’t like the end result), and paying a lot of Canadian dollars, I was ready to start the process.

I walked into the glass-walled room feeling like I was going to bond with the artist (whom I shall refer to as “the thug” or, “TT” for short), but I soon realized that this was a pipe dream that just wasn’t going to happen. TT had clearly seen things (including potential murder by his own heavily tattooed hands), and I wondered if he was the tattoo industry’s version of Sweeney Todd.

These thoughts must have translated into me looking nervous upon entering the room because the only words he said to me were, “I’m assuming this is your first tattoo?” I was initially offended by his implication that my doughy, innocent flesh didn’t scream “I’M TATTED, DUDE,” but I quickly realized that he was just making an astute observation based on years of experience.

The table felt cold when I lay down, and I suddenly wished that the whole process was over. I had no clue what the tattooing would feel like, and my over-active imagination made me think that it would feel like knives being repeatedly shoved into my chest. Thankfully, that was an over exaggeration because it turned out to be nothing worse than having hundreds of bees sting your chest for fifteen minutes.

Once the self-inflicted and funded torture was finished, I gingerly got off the table and looked in the mirror at the fresh ink. I loved the result and promptly told TT that it was perfect. He seemed unmoved by my effusive praise and continued cleaning his supplies for the next victim. So having nothing else to do, I headed out the door and into the sunshine. I walked down the crowded boardwalk with my head held high because whether people I passed thought that I was adventurous or not, the throbbing pain in my chest told me that I was.

Wondering what the tattoo is? I’ll share more about it in an upcoming blog post.

The rest of the trip flew by since there wasn’t much that would compare to getting tattooed in a random Canadian town, but I couldn’t have been happier with the experience. That spur-of-the-moment trip to Canada taught me more lessons about myself than I could ever convey in one blog post, so I will share the most meaningful one.

I learned not to allow myself to believe that I have to be lonely. Yes, I may be alone at different times in my life, but I wholeheartedly believe that loneliness is often a choice that someone makes in response to being alone. I was alone the entire weekend in Canada, but I never felt it because I was doing so many fulfilling and memorable activities.

Trust me, as someone who is perennially single, I get the whole loneliness feeling, but I am learning that there are healthy ways to respond to that emotion. You may not be able to take a trip to Canada for the weekend, but you can do your best to fill your time with meaningful activities.

It’s been a long road for me to get to that conclusion, and I am sure that there are still some upcoming twists that I’m not expecting. But I can promise you that beginning to reorient my mindset about being alone will be integral to me leading a more enriched life.

And if the opportunity does arise for you to visit Canada for a weekend, I would highly recommend you take it because it could leave you with enough stories and lessons to last you a lifetime.

Let me know what you think!