I’ve always like tattoos. Since way back when I was a teen. I wasn’t ever really sure if I’d really get one, but I did.
When my daughter started kindergarten, after my second divorce, I got my first tattoo. It took 20 minutes and cost $65. I chose the Kanji calligraphy symbol for Patience as that is something I felt I had learned in a huge way over the last few years. It was down my spine, about 7″ and it covered easily with a racer back sports bra so I didn’t have to show it at yoga if I didn’t want to.
Fast forward to April 1st of this year. I had had some artwork in my head for a long, long time. Oddly enough, it even resembled a water color painting on bamboo that was sent to me when I was 16 from my pen pal in Hong Kong. Her name was Jo Jo Wong. It hangs at the end of my tiny and somewhat dark hallway.
I didn’t tell anyone that I was going to get a large tattoo across my upper back, not even my husband. I checked out a few places and felt the most comfortable at a place close to home that was ran by all women. I paid my $40 deposit and set my appointment and went on my way. A few weeks later, April 1st came. Being old like I am, I had not had a cycle for a long, long time. That morning, I started a period…from hell. I ran home from work, ate a small amount and grabbed a can of Coke. Off I went.
I sat there for 45 minutes while she drew up what I wanted. I had given her several pictures when I paid my deposit. I guess they wait to see if you’re really going to come back before they make any effort. Most of this was just ideas and the design was pretty much free-handed on my back with an orange Sharpie. The branch was a wing job and it’s beautiful.
I put on my jacket backwards and sat down. She cleaned my back with this green soap that had a burn to it right from the get go. I had chosen a cherry blossom branch with flowers across my upper back. On one shoulder blade would be two birds with the date 11/7/80 which was the date I met my husband, now and then. On the other shoulder I had my daughters’ birthdate and the phrase –
It’s impossible – said pride
It’s risky – said experience
It’s pointless – said reason
Give it a try – whispered the heart
It was a toss up. I had a few others, but this one truly spoke to me in a big way. Especially with the events leading to where I am right now. So. The tattooist dug in with her gun, on the lettering first. It burned. It burned bad. Then she asked if I was on any medication (which she had already asked me) because she said she’d never seen anyone bleed so much on a liner. Great. I was going to bleed to death and we had two letters done.
It ceased up after a bit, perhaps it was the adrenaline. Who knows. I was in that chair for like 3 hours. My lettering was done, my birds were mostly done, the branch was done and the flowers were outlined. I left. Another appointment was to be had in 2 weeks. They cleaned the wound and sealed it with something called Saniderm. That stuff was the best ever. I am alone most of the time so cleaning would’ve been a challenge. This stuff is like a saran wrap that sticks to your skin, not the wound. It’s used for burn victims. She said I could go swimming if I wanted. No. Way. I showered every day and left that shit on for one week. It was annoying towards the end and it did leave strong red marks where the adhesive was, but that’s all gone now.
I felt very sick about a week after getting the tattoo. I went to my doctor and he said everything was fine. I am a paranoid person at times and I do believe that my mind made me ill. I didn’t have anyone to talk to about what or how I should’ve felt afterwards so where did I go for information? Why the internet of course. By the end of one night I had diagnosed myself with Staph, Hepatitis of all letters, HIV, Sepsis, MRSA and Strep. I’m sure there was a host of other illnesses that I’ve forgotten by now in there as well.
I cried. It hurt. I couldn’t lean back in a chair. It was hard to sleep at times. It hurt to stretch. My stomach was upset. And all I could think of was I wanted this, I paid for this, I deserve this and I’m an idiot. It was my favorite time of year and it hurt to be outside!
I could not go back in two weeks. I was still sore and the burning sensation had not really ceased. You don’t realize how much you use your upper back until you get it pretty much totally tattooed! Mind you I didn’t miss a day of work except the couple of hours I spent at the doctor that one day. I was diagnosed with a sinus infection. I was given antibiotics that would make me sicker than I was before. I quit taking them!
I changed my appointment. It would be April 28th until I would be able to return and believe me, I almost didn’t. It looked good like it was. I would live with the outline on the flowers. After all, it was for me and no one else! I made the appointment a tad bit later than the last time. I ran home from work and showered quickly. I put on yoga pants and ate half a rotisserie chicken from Wal-Mart. No Coke this time, just water at my side.
She started shading in all the flowers and I swear I could’ve fallen asleep. What in the hell is up with that? It was death the first time, the second time made me want to get my entire body covered (which I will not be doing, in case you’re wondering). I’d mentioned the feeling I had the last time and she cleaned my back with different soap. It was so much better. No more green soap for me.
After another almost 3 hour session, I was done. I would’ve liked to have had a tad more detail, but one can only take so much. It’s lovely. It’s soft looking like an Asian painting. I see so many tattoos today that are so saturated with ink. That’s a brightness I wasn’t after.
I’d post a picture, but I think I’ll just leave it to the imagination. My birds are purple, orange, turquoise and black. My phrase is black. My branch is gray and the flowers are pink with some skin showing through.
It’s beautiful. It’s finished. I lived. No regrets.