This is my first tattoo, and I’m completely in love with it! The “stay gold.” is a reference to the amazing book The Outsiders, and just getting it shows my undying bookworm-ness and love for literature. The quote itself has huge weight in the story, and it has a ton of meaning for me. It is first brought up in the novel when Ponyboy and Johnny watch a sunrise together, and reflect on the fact that it can’t be sunrise all the time, and that “nothing gold can stay.” Ponyboy quotes Robert Frost’s poem: “Nature’s first green is gold,/ Her hardest hue to hold./ Her early leaf’s a flower;/ But only so an hour./ Then leaf subsides to leaf./ So Eden sank to grief,/ So dawn goes down to day./ Nothing gold can stay.” Ponyboy mentions that he always remembered the poem because he wasn’t quite sure what Frost meant. The sunrise itself has significance for me, and that meaning ties into the tattoo. The actual quote is Johnny’s last words to Ponyboy, which are “Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold.” Ponyboy isn’t quite sure what he means by that, but it’s explained when he reads Johnny’s letter to him. A few excerpts from that (the parts that are relevant): “I’ve been thinking about it, and that poem, that guy that wrote it, he meant you’re gold when you’re a kid, like green. When you’re a kid everything’s new, dawn. It’s just when you get used to everything that it’s day. Like the way you dig sunsets, Pony. That’s gold. Keep that way, it’s a good way to be… And don’t be so bugged about being a greaser. You still have a lot of time to make yourself be what you want. There’s still lots of good in the world…” Basically, what Johnny meant when he said stay gold was for Pony to stay true to himself, to keep his dreams and make what he wanted of himself, and to never lose his wonder of the world. And now I will always have that reminder to hold onto my innocence and sense of creativity and to retain my curiosity about the world, and to never give up hope in the world. To never let life become dull. To remember that even after the darkest night, dawn will come. And I can hold onto that sunrise. I can stay gold.
Done at Big Bear Tattoo in The City of Big Bear Lake, artist: Bill Carlson.