So it goes.
It's been two years since I got my first tattoo. My recollection at this point is a little hazy, but I'll put together what I can. It was April 2007, and I'd been wanting a tattoo, but I had no idea what. When the news came through that Kurt Vonnegut had died, I knew what it would be -- Vonnegut was my favourite author all through high school and beyond, and Slaughterhouse-Five has always held a very special place in my heart. I opted for the phrase "So it goes" -- as a tribute to Vonnegut and to that book in particular.
I bounced ideas for placement off a couple friends of mine, and ended up deciding that I would have the words curve around my right shoulderblade. I decided to go to Strange City on Whyte Avenue, as I'd gotten two piercings there previously (I've since gotten 9 more, and they helped me when I first started stretching my lobes -- I'm a loyal customer, what can I say).
They got me in for a consult pretty soon, and I met with Shawn to talk about it. I'd printed off the phrase in a font that I liked, and took it in with me. The consult took all of ten minutes -- he took my paper and traced the curve of my shoulderblade so that he could align the text properly.
We booked the appointment for a week or two later. As my tattoo was very simple, I got the feeling he was a little bored by it. Not much I could really do about that, though, and I showed up for the appointment precisely on time so we could get through it. I didn't bring anyone to hold my hand, figuring I could get through it easily enough by myself. I was really nervous, and a few friends expected me to chicken out. It was probably precisely their teasing that kept me from doing so -- I was going to prove that I could do it, and that I could do it on my own.
Shawn didn't talk much, so the appointment was mostly spent listening to the buzz of the tattoo needle. The sensation of being tattooed for the first time was really strange -- it feels a lot like a bee sting, only a gradual one that covers a lot of space. I don't find it very comfortable, but it's bearable, and this tattoo didn't take a very long time -- maybe 20 minutes. One thing that quickly became obvious is that the pain increases as time goes on -- as he went over the same areas repeatedly in order to make the black black enough, it started to get pretty miserable.
I couldn't really see that well, as it was my back. There was a mirror, and if I tilted my head the right way, I could see through that. Since Shawn was pretty quiet and didn't seem inclined to conversation, I passed the longest twenty minutes of my life staring at the mirror for as long as my neck would hold the position without hurting. After it was all done, he covered the tattoo with plastic and taped it up, and gave me an aftercare sheet. I paid, gave a decent tip, and headed home.
One thing I learned quickly about tattoos is that you don't want to cover a fresh one with light-coloured clothing. I ended up tossing a shirt, the back of which had a large stain of blood and ink because I'd worn it after removing the plastic. Gross. Second, sleeping can be very difficult. I generally move around in my sleep, shifting from my side to my back -- I woke up at one point after having rolled onto my back, and had to very, very carefully peel myself off of the sheet, which had become stuck to the moist scab of the tattoo.
I was pretty good with aftercare, putting lotion on frequently and taking cooler showers than usual. The sensation of the scab was pretty cool as first, and I sort of expected it to stay like that... and then, of course, it started to peel. Peeling from a solid black tattoo is kind of disgusting. I ended up with all these little black flakes stuck to the insides of my shirts, and big chunks of the scab would peel off when I put lotion on. The peeling lasted about a week, and then I was left with the finished tattoo.
Roughly three years later, and I still adore the tattoo. It's simple but elegant, and the words hold a lot of meaning for me. I always love catching a glimpse of the letters in the mirror or in photographs of me. One of the things I love is that the tattoo still has a tiny bit of texture to it, so I can feel it on my skin.
I've brought friends to my subsequent tattoo appointments, and would recommend doing so. Not having anyone to talk to makes it feel like it takes forever, and doesn't give you anything to distract you when it starts to hurt. Still, it was a good first experience, and I still love my first tattoo.
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 21 Dec. 2009