I’ve wanted to adorn my skin with colorful designs for as long as I can remember. I always admired the art of tattoos, but I hesitated to schedule my own appointment to go under the needle. There were designs that I dreamed of inking on my body — but I didn’t want to take the plunge alone. When my friend asked for suggestions to do something spontaneous and memorable on her birthday, I had an idea.
While it used to be a symbol of rebellion, these days, permanent ink is almost commonplace. Cultural and generational opinions may differ, but to me, the idea of tattoos feels more widely accepted than ever before.
As a creative person, I can’t imagine passing up the opportunity to make my body into a work of art.
Somehow, it took my best friend’s birthday to actually make it happen — I came up with the idea to get tattoos the day before.
I’ve had a special tattoo in mind since I was 17, but I didn’t decide on a design until the morning of the actual event. I was confident in the sentimentality behind the artwork, but I told myself that this tattoo would make a great story, no matter how it came out.
We arrived to our appointments, feeling a little bit nervous and a little bit giddy, but the employees at the parlor were understanding. Seeing all of the classic flash tattoos gave me an immediate adrenaline rush as we walked in. Tattoos may seem like a modern concept, but I was reminded that tattooing is an ancient tradition. It felt like a privilege to be a part of something so time-honored.
The artist took hours to draw out my idea. I didn’t mind the wait, considering it was going to be on my body forever. Once he was finished, he gave me a translucent piece of paper with a copy of the design. I went into the bathroom and played with the placement of the tattoo on my body.
What was it like to actually get inked? Well, I knew it would be a sterile procedure, but I never imagined that getting a tattoo would feel so medical. The bed I laid on was exactly like a bed at the doctor’s office, covered with a paper sheet and slightly elevated. I was given a hospital gown to cover myself, and the location of the tattoo was wiped down thoroughly with alcohol.
The adrenaline rush prior to getting the tattoo actually felt more unpleasant than the tattoo itself.
I had heard that the pain was comparable to bee stings or cat scratches, so I was expecting a sharp sensation. In reality, the needle felt like someone deeply scratching me with their fingernail. Prior to the tattoo, I assumed the pain would be consistent throughout the procedure, but the needle was only on my skin for a few seconds at a time.
No, my best friend and I didn’t get matching designs. But every time I look down at my ink, I am reminded of a time in my life when I was surrounded by people who I love.
To me, the experience of getting a tattoo is just as important as the tattoo itself. Best friendship is such a powerful, important relationship. It deserves to be celebrated.
Permanent ink may seem like a risky commemoration, but I am so glad that I took the spontaneous plunge.
When I look at my tattoo, I remember being young and carefree on my friend’s 20th birthday. We used this opportunity to make a promise to ourselves that the future would be full of many more daring, impulsive, and adventurous moments.
I wouldn’t have wanted to get my first tattoo any other way.