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Waiting to exhale

October first of my senior year of high school I turned eighteen. I began getting modifications. All I had at his point was one piercing in each of my earlobes and one piercing in my cartilage, all done before the age of thirteen, needless to say, by a giggly blonde wielding a piercing gun in the mall. My modding started with a Monroe the day after my eighteenth birthday. Then I got a couple of tattoos. I was ready, however, for a new piercing. Browsing bmezine.com and artist portfolios gave me many options, many of which I liked. One I was adamantly opposed to, however, was the septum piercing. I decided that the wearers of this nose piercing looked bovine, not to mention the pain must be overwhelming.

My best friend Brittany and I began talking about what piercings I could get. I said I wanted a discrete piercing, but something that was easy to flaunt as well. After turning down her suggestions of nipple and all genital piercings, and not having the stomach for a navel piercing, we continued our quest for the perfect piercing. I continued to shy away from ear piercings, as I wanted something different. I did not want my tongue pierced, as I am an avid woodwind player and did not want to jeopardize my ability. The more I looked through pictures, the more appealing a septum piercing became: it was easily hidden, easy to show off, and becoming absolutely endearing with each and every picture I viewed. I scoured google images, bmezine, artist portfolios, and online blogs and message boards for pictures and experiences of septum piercings. I was falling in love with the piercing, and finally decided a septum was definately the piercing for me.

I sent a note to my piercer, Alan, through My Space asking about prices for a septum piercing and found that I could get the piercing done with a retainer at an inexpensive price. I was becoming more and more excited and told Brittany as soon as possible about my plan. We made plans on when to go to Ground Zero and get my piercing done, as she and I love to go together when one of us is getting a modification. We decided, as stereotypical as it seemed, spring break was the most opportune time.

Spring break finally came. I withdrew a large amount of money from the bank, as Brittany and I were also buying prom dresses while in Muncie (the city in which the studio is located). The whole ride to Muncie, I dwelled upon my nervousness, telling Brittany I was reconsidering. Deep down, I knew I wanted this piercing, but my nerves were getting the best of me. She insisted I get the piercing. She reminded me that she would be there, and how great of a piercer Alan is, and how clean and friendly the studio is...every little thing I needed reiterated to regain my composure.

Soon enough, our dresses and accessories were purchased, and a tightly folded wad of money was still safely tucked away in my wallet, begging to be spent at our final destination. We pulled up to the studio, and my heart and stomach simlutaneously shot to opposite ends of my body.

We walked in, I was nervous as ever. The smell of the studio always made me jittery. It smelled of the cleanliness of a hospital, and hospitals make me dreadfully uncomfortable. I mosied to the counter, a bit more calm, but still a bit nerve-racked. Alan came to the front. "Did you decide to get the septum?" he asked. 'Drat, he knows why I've come!' I thought. "Yes. With a retainer." We talked a few more minutes, decided collectively upon a 14 gauge retainer. I slid my BMV-distributed photo identification card and my social security card across the glass counter top to him and began filling out paperwork. I finished filling out the release form while Alan was still setting up. I sat next to Brittany. "Gawwwd, I'm nervous," I whined. Brittany continued to console me and my crazy nerves by reminding me of the horrid experience of re-piercing my Monroe. Needle + scar tissue = insane amounts of pain. Soon enough, Alan told us to come to the back room. Somehow, this was the most soothing moment of the anticipation process.

Brittany and I walked to the back. I made myself comfortable on the seat/bed in the center of the room and looked at the framed suspension pictures like I had twice before. It was a sort of personal zen.

The tools were layed out on a small cart next to my seat, as always. Alan explained what the process would be, and I smiled and nodded, amazed at how collected I was. Alan began marking my nose with lines and dots, mapping the area between my nostrils for penetration. I took a long look in the mirror and nodded my approval. I looked to Brittany. "Well?" I asked. My partner in crime agreed with me and I sat back on the paper-covered cushiony seat. I felt as if I was about to have plastic surgery, my nose all marked up as it was. Before I knew it, I was laying on my back.

Alan's gloved hands loomed above my face. One hand held a needle, the other a receiving tube. He again explained the piercing process and said my eyes would inevitably water. He lined up the needle and tube on opposite sides of my nose. A single tear sprang to my right eye, the side of my nose being gently touched with the needle. "I'm just lining it up," he said. "I know," was my only reply. If the tiniest of pokes was enough to moisten my eye, what was the piercing going to be like? "Ready?" I heard Alan say. I barely remember saying, "Ready as I'll ever be."

"Take a deep breath in," Alan's voice instructed. When my chest heaved full of air, I felt the needle enter my nose. My eyes widened and the air escaped from my lungs before I could be told to exhale. "Again," I was told. My lungs again swelled with oxygen as I felt the needle travel through my nose a bit farther. I exhaled on command, after holding my breath for what felt like an eternity. On Alan's cue of "One last time" I took a deep breath, anticipating the release of my breath more that the final push of the needle and its departure from my nose. Soon enough, I was breathing out again. The needle sat in my nose while Alan retreived my shiny, clean retainer from the tray. I wiped tears from my eyes and let out a small giggle. I had mumbled, and sometimes practically shouted, profanities throughout the entire process. "Oh fuck. Oh shit." graced my lips countless times during the piercing process. "Alright, here's the retainer. This won't hurt," Alan consoled. He slid the retainer in and the needle out, simultaneously and with grace. I sat up finally, feeling perfectly fine, and no longer crying.

I went to the mirror and checked out my new piercing. "I won't try to be a badass. I cried," I laughed. I beamed as I saw my new tiny retainer gracing my nose. Again looking at Brittany, I got a smile and words of approval and excitement. I turned around. "I love it," I told Alan. He explained to me how to flip my retainer into my nose. "It looks silly, but it's easy if you do it this way," he explained, then pulled his top lip downward making a silly face and in the process stretching his nostrils as well. I imitated the face and he tucked away my retainer for me. I admired my nose again in the mirror. I was amazed at how perfectly hidden it was. Brittany knelt down and looked up my nose. "I still don't see it!" she exclaimed. The three of us walked to the lobby of the parlor. I paid Alan and thanked him again for my amazing new piercing.

I am completely in love with my septum piercing. The healing was painful and long it seemed, but is perfect now. I wear jewelry (a circular barbell) as often as possible. However, I have not informed my parents of my piercing. It has been a hard secret to keep, but I dread the drama that would ensue. Despite my mother having a tattoo hidden from her parents (in their sixties) I do not have the courage to inform her of my piercing. The day will come soon enough, though, when I can openly show off my septum at and away from home.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 04 July 2005
in Nose Piercing

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Artist: Alan
Studio: Ground+Zero
Location: Muncie%2C+IN

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