It was the summer of 2000... No. Wait. 2002? Scratch that. It was probably circa 2001 when I did the unthinkable deed. I got up, sifted through my laundry to find my best bra and tank top, took one hard look at myself in the mirror and gave myself the good ol' "wink & the gun". I just knew that once I left the house that day, I would be coming back a forever changed person. I was a girl on a mission, and my body was about to be put into a situation that I'd only heard impressive stories about. I'd be coming home...
So off I went. Hopped on the bus and headed downtown. Found myself at the doorstep of the only reputable tattoo shop that I knew of at the time... and so it began. My love affair with ink! There was no fear. I just quietly sat down in the shop, filled out my paperwork and watched on. as the artist executed his craft calmly and casually on another patron. I had gone alone and I was up next. Once I signed the paperwork, I knew there was no going back and the adrenaline had kicked in. When my tattoo artist called me up to get started, I nervously got up on chair, gave him my sketch and explained what I wanted and where. He left my side to get the image just right and, next thing I knew - my tank top was rolled up while I straddled the tattoo chair like a mechanical bull, and we were off to the races.
At first, the tracing of the image on my bare skin felt cool... almost ticklish on the small of my back. Then came the infamous (and now, second-nature) sound I had been half-dreading, half-longing for: the distinct and merciless buzzing of the tattoo gun!
I remember shyly telling my artist to be gentle, since it was my "first time". He chuckled and his colleagues undoubtedly made a funny "virgin" joke just as he was about to get started. And then - just like that, I felt the gun pierce my skin and I immediately tensed up. It was as though my body was saying:
My artist could sense my shock at that point. I knew I had to relax and just soldier on if I was going to get the tattoo I wanted. And, the moment I accepted the inevitability of the forthcoming pain, a steady calmness came over me. I forced myself to let go of the thought of my skin being unrelentingly poked with the speed, precision and intensity of tiny exacto knives. Instead, I zoned out. Calmed my breathing.Sipped my bottled water. Accepted what I had gotten myself into. I became resolved not to punk out... especially as I looked on towards the front of the shop and unintentionally locked eyes with two teenage guys who were waiting for their own tattoos... likely questioning if I was going to "make it".
After about 20 minutes, the deed was done. My artist commended me for sitting like a pro; but in all honesty - i think my mind just went into self-preservation mode, and my body followed suit. I could tell I'd felt some sort of pain during the process because underneath my clothes, I was sweating from every orifice of my body when it was over. The bottom line though, was that I didn't pass out. I didn't scream. I didn't whine or fidget. I woman-ed up and got through it, sans fuss. The adrenaline carried me through. And when I got to stand up, grab the mirror and take a look at my completed piece, I was elated and relieved. It turned out just the way I had envisioned it and it became an instant part of me.
Since then, I've acquired several other inked pieces. Each one, with it's own little story or personal meaning to me. A few questions I'm often asked when someone sees one of my tattoos:
- How bad did it hurt? It's funny... the pain isn't so much a pain to me as it is a constant really annoying itch or burning feeling that you just want to rub.
- Do you have a favourite? I do.
- How many do you have? *counts on fingers* A few.
- Do you plan to get more? Absolutely!.
- How many is enough? I'll let you know when I get there.
- Don't you think you'll regret the ink when you're older? If I'm worried about the way my tattoos look when I'm 80, then clearly I've not lived my best life by that point. *shakes finger at self.*
- What makes you decide to get a tattoo? Not sure. Generally, my tattoos are the result of something I've read, something I've gone through, or simply something that I find beautiful and/or intriguing. I have tattoos I planned months in advance and some a few days in advance.
So friends, what are your thoughts on ink? Are you inked? Is there a method to your ink choices? Or is ink just not your thing?
Personally - I like getting tattoos. I don't mind the pain at all anymore. I like seeing them on myself and on others. I even watch shows about tattoo artists and follow some artists via social media. It's an intriguing and personal artistic expression for both the artist and the client (i.e. myself). But, hey - even if I wasn't inked at all...