Stopping the Merry Go Round
As I drove down the street at a decent speed that I usually never do, many things crossed my mind. And for about 1 mile, I daydreamed about being financially stable and living a better life. I dreamed of no more stress and running through the greenest grass in the biggest lawn in a big house far from Los Angeles. I wanted to escape and I needed answers. I had no idea where to look or where to go. As I continued daydreaming while driving down Normandie Ave and trying to crack a decent smile on my down and out life, the black little truck in front of me had the answers.
On the back window of this truck was an emblem that said cleanslatela.org. There was my answer. There was my hope. Little did I know that this truck would soon flip my whole life around. As soon as I arrived home, I logged on to the internet and typed in the website. Clean Slate was a non profit that provided tattoo removal. I don’t recall how many missed appointments I did not make, but I finally made it after about 2 months from seeing the black little truck.
At that point in my life, several factors prevented me from ever doing much. Maybe that’s why I felt that my life was a merry go round and spinning in the same routine every single day. No kind of advancement in my life. I had a crappy car that I was embarrassed of and would usually park far in the corner so that no one at all the crappy jobs I ever had would see me driving that junk.
I mean, I had to consider the drive from West L.A. to Whittier, where this tattoo removal clinic was located at. Not only did my pockets have to suffer, but I had to wake up early as well and on a Saturday. Double whammy. And on top of those two obstacles, I had two elementary aged children that I had to care for. Again, I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders, as usual.
But eventually, I did make it out to Whittier. And the only reason I went was for the mere fact that I was informed via phone by a Clean Slate staff member that they would work with me on the price. So there I was, parked outside the location. As I counted the $48 that I had in my worn out Calvin Klein wallet, I glanced at my gas tank. I had about enough to get back home and I would eventually need to fill up my tank for the following week while I did my job hunting and picked up my children from school.
letters emblazoned on my arms were a constant reminder of a cause that was at one point very dear to my heart.
The moment was here and I had been contemplating to remove certain tattoos from my forearms that I felt were representing something that I no longer stood for. The 3 by 3 inch old English styled letters emblazoned on my arms were a constant reminder of a cause that was at one point very dear to my heart. And even though I renounced and abandoned all my former peers because I wanted a change, I still paraded around the town while others glanced at my arms. The hardest decision in my life was leaving the streets and even worse, I wasn’t happy that my former peers were not in the best of moods to accept my decision for change.
But the time was now and I soon checked in with the young lady immediately as I entered the double doors to what seemed to be a youth center. After completing a simple registration sheet with my contact information and what tattoos I wanted removed, I waited. Within about 15 minutes, I was called in for my intake appointment, which was necessary to view the size and set a price for the tattoos in question. This is when I met Marianne Diaz, the founder of Clean Slate LA.
As she grabbed my wrist and took a gander at my tattoos, I thought about all the skin specialists and dermatologists that I had visited that wanted to charge me $100 per inch and informing me that I would need about 10 sessions on each arm. I was thinking what could I do since I only had forty eight measly dollars in my pocket. And this is where the first baby step towards a better existence began.
I paid $20 to start off my tattoo removal treatments. She asked me if I was working and I told her I was in between jobs, which pretty much let her know that I was jobless. I told her that I just wanted to lighten up the tattoos enough so I can get some different and non street tattoos over the area of my forearm. For that first time and at that price, she allowed me to experience the oh so painful experience from the laser machine. I don’t know what hurt the most, to remove the tattoos or for my former peers to spew their comments towards my resignation from the cause that we once shared.
And as I clinched my teeth, that’s what I focused on. Removing the tattoos that I would never in a million years thought that I would remove. It was a bitter sweet moment for me. After many sessions, I was soon able to remove other tattoos as well, including the letters that were a huge impact in my young adulthood.
Clean Slate not only made me feel better that I was accomplishing something but it also helped me heal
Participating in the tattoo removal program at Clean Slate not only made me feel better that I was accomplishing something but it also helped me heal from old wounds and bitterness from the split that I had with my former friends. Over time, and with my tattoos 95% gone, I felt much better to enter businesses in short sleeved shirts and not have to worry about someone approaching me and starting conflicts with me. I felt more at ease within myself and I believe that was all that I wanted. I wanted peace in my life.
I will forever be grateful to Marianne and Clean Slate for the dedication towards transforming my life and giving me that push towards being able to move forward without letting reminders of my past hinder my progress.
– Michael Manzo