set on you forever – a tattoo story

I’m commitment phobic. Totally always have been. My style evolves constantly, my tastes, my interests. But I’ve always toyed with the idea of getting a tattoo. I grew up in a small town and was raised by very conservative parents with old-fashioned values – many of which I think are great to have. When it comes to “body modifications,” however, I’ve always been fascinated and curious. I never saw many tattoos growing up, until I hit my twenties, and every other boyfriend was heavily tattooed. Over the years I’ve had three piercings other than my ears (belly button, nose, and a medusa), each of which my mom flipped out over. I’ve always admired tattoos on other people, when they’re well done. I think it’s probably been about two or three years that I really, really wanted to get myself inked – for real.

I was always apprehensive about the idea of something being on my own precious skin forever and ever. I would obsess over it. How could I commit to the idea of having an image set permanently in place? What if it came out badly? What if I hated it? What if I needed to cover it up for work? What if it affected my job adversely? All things to consider. Which is why I took great pains to do my research, select my artist based on his portfolio, and sit with my design for a long time. I wanted two birds – one male and one female, one holding a key in his beak and one with a lock set in her belly. Flowers. Girly. Pretty. The “meaning” I guess, if you insist on it, is kind of obvious – one having the key to my heart and whatnot. (I used to be stuck on the idea that every tattoo had to have a very profound meaning – ain’t so. Get whatever you like. Just make sure you like it a lot.) Initially I wanted to get them done on my forearms. When my apartment was burglarized in November, I shelved my tattoo indefinitely. I still held the idea in the back of my mind, though. (And continued to fill up my tattoo savings account!) Six months later, I still wanted the birds, but decided to have them placed on my upper back instead. I was freaking about the visibility and commitment level of a forearm tattoo.

I booked a consultation with my artist (J.M. Wulfe at Grim North in Portsmouth, New Hampshire). As soon as I talked about it with James put the deposit down, I knew I was ready. So. Fucking. Ready! I’m a tattoo obsessor. I stalk blogs like Sometimes Sweet for its Tattoo Tuesday posts (Danielle Hampton has some gorgeous ink) and Decorated Skin is another of my favorites. I watch all “Ink” shows (with a grain of salt, those shows are highly stylized). Good tattoos, man. It may sound silly but I have just been dying to be tattooed for so long. I kind of always suspected I would be someone who would wind up with a bunch of tattoos, but I was also at war with my conservative background and mercurial nature. “What ifs” plagued me – until I finally mentally committed.

Two weeks later, I committed in ink. I brought my friend Kyle with me to the tattoo studio and had an amazing three hour session with James – lines and shading are done. The design is beautiful and more than I could have hoped for. It’s unique to me and James did so well with bringing what I had envisioned to reality. The pain wasn’t bad, either. It wasn’t a cakewalk, but it almost brought out a certain toughness in me – you know it’s going to be worth it in the end, so after awhile you get in this zone and you feel sort of invincible. It was emotional for me, too (although I held it totally together like the cool cat I am) – getting something you’ve deeply wanted for so long and taking a plunge into something I know I’m absolutely into. I got my first “nice ink” from a stranger in a gas station. I feel different, even when my tattoo is covered by my office appropriate clothes. Sexier. I can’t stop looking in the mirror. It’s beautiful to have something that moves with my skin that can never be washed off, can never be stolen from me. I just love that.

In progress of course. James’ photo is better than mine which were taken on my iPhone, and it’s hard to take pictures of my back. But yes. It’s healing gorgeously and I go back for colorrrrrss on June 2! If you have any ideas, be sure to post them. Oh yes… and I’m already planning my next big piece. 😀

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4 thoughts on “set on you forever – a tattoo story

  1. I LOVE IT! The pictures are gorgeous and I am glad you did your research and obsessed over what you wanted to get for a long time. I have an idea to write about my tattoos in the future, maybe this will make me write it sooner than later. Great job and excellent idea! xoxo~Liz

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