Here, at long last, is the story of my tattoo.
If you read this post, you know that this is something I have been thinking about for a long time. Once I finally decided on what I wanted (chive blossoms) and where (forearm), I had to find an artist. Some close friends with multiple tattoos highly recommended their artist so I decided to go with him. I met with him to discuss my vision and then made an appointment to get the work done. I was excited and felt really good about my decision.
As the day of the appointment got closer, I started to feel uneasy. I still wanted the tattoo but started to think smaller would be better. Maybe not my forearm, maybe my wrist instead. Maybe just one blossom instead of multiple. I sent a panicked email to the artist asking if we could go smaller and he responded that no, we couldn’t because the lines of the stalks are so small and delicate that shrinking them would make it impossible to do in this medium (i.e. needles on skin). “Be brave.” That was the last line of his email. I wasn’t. A tattoo is forever and you can’t feel unsure. I canceled the appointment.
Almost immediately after canceling, I realized how much I wanted it. For me, it was like trying on a dress that I wasn’t sure about. In my shopping life, if I’m not 100% convinced I love something, I walk away from it. If two hours go by and I don’t think of that dress once, I know I don’t really want it. If I spend two hours scheming about how to get back to that store – even if I have to drag my boys with me – I know I have to go buy it. With my tattoo, those two hours became a few weeks so by the time we went on vacation, I was positive I wanted to get it.
To some, it might seem impulsive that I walked into a tattoo parlor in Provincetown and ended up getting a tattoo later that same day, but it really wasn’t. This decision was months in the making and I was just ready. Yes, it may have been smarter to find a local artist or go back with the original guy but smarter isn’t always better.
Randy, the boys and I all walked in to a place slightly off the beaten track and got a decidedly cool look from the guy behind the counter. Not rude but definitely “what is this soccer mom doing in my place of business?”. (For the record, I am not a soccer mom – not that there is anything wrong with soccer moms.) I asked him if he knew what a chive blossom looked like. His cool look warmed slightly. Yes, he knew what they looked like and he loved the green and purple. He pulled up some photos online and we found a few that looked right. He highly recommended a guest artist they had in town, a guy named DC, saying all the guys in the parlor were going to get work done by him that evening.
DC was the prototypical tattoo artist. Bandana on his head, long beard, leather vest, tattoos covering his arms. He too liked the idea of the chives. We looked at the pictures, talked a bit, and then he asked me to wait a few minutes while he drew something up. I said nothing to him about how many blossoms I wanted and I also said nothing about thinking maybe there should be a bit of string tying them together. A few minutes later, he came out with a drawing feature two blossoms (I had two in mind to symbolize my boys) and with a dainty string tying the stems together. I knew for sure that I had found the right guy. Any lingering doubts I had disappeared.
Here are answers to the questions I keep getting.
1) Is that real?
2) Why your forearm?
I don’t have a good answer for that one. I just had a vision of it being there. Originally I was going to go with my left arm and then, for no explainable reason, I changed to the right. I have a very small Leo sign on my back which, unless I am looking in a mirror, I never see. I like that it is there but I forget about it half the time. And living in the climate we do, really the only time it is visible is in a yoga class. I guess I wanted something I could show, and see, any time.
3) Did it hurt?
Oh my god, yes. I wasn’t all that nervous about the pain because, after all, I have been through labor and 2 c-sections. I know pain. But I wasn’t prepared for how much it would hurt. He started at the wrist end which is much more painful and there were moments where I honestly didn’t think I could stand it. The only thing that kept me from stopping him is I knew I couldn’t have some random half-finished lines on my arm for the rest of my life. As time went on (it took a little over an hour), the pain got more tolerable. It was sore for a few days and then itchy. Now it is almost healed and like labor, I know I will soon forget about the pain.
4) What does your husband think?
Randy has been supportive about and slightly baffled by this whole thing. He is the one who came up with the idea of an herb and I think he liked the idea of it all along. When we started specifically talking about chives being on my forearm until death do us part, he got a little skittish. But never once did he suggest that I not do it. Now I think he really likes it. It is pretty, delicate, and it symbolizes such an important part of me.
5) Do you love it?
I almost love it. I really really really like it. I am happy that it is there, I love showing it off. I am proud of it. I think it is beautiful and I am so thrilled that DC did such a good job. It scares me that it is there forever and I think that is what keeps me from saying I love it. I know that it will soon become a part of me as much as the one on my back is. I worry slightly how it will wear and fade over the years being in such a visible spot. If a magic genie came out of a bottle and told me he could grant me the wish of removing it without a scar, I would say no thanks – I’ll keep it. (And how about granting the wish that I could eat french fries for every meal and not gain weight?)
I know the photos make it look disembodied but I tried several different ways of taking pictures and they all looked kind of weird. I hope you get a feel for it.