“You should want the same tattoo in the same place for at least a year,” was the advice of a friend when I expressed my interest this indulgence. She has a great deal of beautiful work, and I trusted her opinion.
I had decided what I wanted and where I wanted it about three years prior; I was waiting for the right time. That time came when: middle son graduated high school; I had just returned from travelling abroad; I quit a job; I had a new job; I was packing to move 1500 miles. Sure. Let’s get a tattoo.
Middle son and I headed downtown to the recommended location, and he went first. No pain he asserted…until his design went around to the inner part of his leg. Then pain. While he underwent the needle, his friend and I thumbed through the piercing catalog. We got to the back pages and … ZOW! People get interesting places pierced.
As we waited, piercer’s notebook put safely on the shelf, a woman in some altered state of mind entered the shop and declared she wanted a tattoo. (She already had several.) The artist available began to chat with her. She shared with the entire studio, “I don’t know what or where. I just want a fucking tattoo today.” After further conversation, she choose a cartoonish panda sitting near a flower for her ankle. When she was given a wait time of ninety minutes, she said she’d be back.
Curiouser and curiouser, Alice would have said.
Son finished up, and declared that it hadn’t hurt that much even though he gripped his friends hand meaningfully toward the end of the procedure. My turn, and I was confident that, having survived three C-sections and emergency gall bladder surgery while chaperoning a school trip, this was not going to hurt that much.
The artist showed me his rendering of the design and words I wanted; we made a couple of adjustments, and we began.
If anyone tells you that tattoos do not hurt, do not believe them. They hurt. For me, it was a progressive pain. At first, it was um…owwww pain, but by the time he was contouring the feathers at the end, it was shitifuckdamntits pain.
I have a wrist tattoo that reads “alis volat propriis” – she flies with her own wings. After the ups and downs and in-betweens of 48 years, I know that I have done nothing totally alone. But, I also know that if I had done nothing, I would have withered up and died.
I will close with my own advice about tattooing: you do want to be sure of what you’re getting and where, ankle panda tattoos notwithstanding, this is an important decision; be prepared for pain; and, don’t look at the last, oh, ten pages of the piercer’s portfolio while you wait.