Body Modification as a Bonding Experience
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It took me quite a long time to find like-minded people who were interested in body modification, since it can be difficult to share such a personal side of yourself. My fear of rejection always left me wondering if my 'friends' would approve or abandon me in disgust.
I slowly learned that I knew many people who were quietly interested in bodmod as I was. They began to talk with me about their ideas for piercings or their designs for tattoos, and I realized I could do the same with them. I discovered that they were some of the people I could trust the most with my experiences and desires, and I found them in the most unbelievable places.
One of the most amazing places I found such a friend was in someone I had known since the beginning of high school. She always ran with a slightly wilder crowd than my own, but soon I was her confidante in life. College exposed us both to freedoms and experiences that broadened our minds, and we always talked about them. One day, we started talking about her roommate's new tattoo (which was apparently rather shoddily done, as she wouldn't show it to anyone for weeks), and I mentioned BME. She had seen it, and we were talking about the broad variety of piercings that were becoming almost "mainstream" -- both of us knew people with well-hidden and personal piercings that we never would have heard about in high school. It was a whole new world.
I began to confide in her more and more about what I was interested in, and she did the same. I talked with her about her design for a tattoo, of the tarot three of swords, and also about my own forays into self-piercing of my nipples and ear. She encouraged me to do what I wanted to do, and was always a listening ear when I was debating something or pissed off about my parents' dislike of such self-expressions.
Eventually, she moved to a different area and finally had a steady job, which meant that she had an income on which so support her desire for body modifications. I had read extensively on the web, and also talked to friends, and told her that Perforations in Washington, DC is the most highly recommended studio in the area, though there are many. I know people who would go nowhere but down to McPherson Square to see Tashi and the gang. I didn't have personal experience with them, but I still felt like they were the best choice for her piercing experience. Recommendations come to those who are good.
She came to visit me one weekend, and on a whim decided to go down there and get something done. She had a few hundred dollars in her pocket, and couldn't decide... then finally decided on a navel piercing as we walked to the College Park metro station. She wanted something that was hidden, so that her relatives wouldn't see and object.
I think I might have been just as nervous as she was as we rode the train, as the excitement built butterflies in my stomach. I was very happy that she wanted to share this with me, and also that I would get to witness a professional piercing for the first time (though not the last!). I spent the endless ride there trying to calm her down, and keeping her nerves from stopping her.
We got to the station and exited the train. I made her stop at a liquor store and buy a Coke, since she was very shaky and hadn't eaten since earlier in the day. I knew how obviously anxious she was, even as she tried to play it cool. At that moment, I felt like not only her confidant but also her guardian. I was there to stand by her side and not let anything bad happen to her. It was such an incredible feeling of a friendship becoming closer and better, and of extreme trust.
She took a deep breath and entered the studio. I immediately liked the modern but soothing design of the place, and was drawn to the many publications and accessories (like the cute pierced people t-shirts) in the cases and on the wall. The employee at the counter was friendly and well-pierced, and I reminded my friend to breathe as she filled out the forms and handed over her driver's license. Then we spent the next several minutes picking out jewelery, which was a curved barbell by Tashi's recommendation, and the bead to close it. She wanted a gemstone bead, and decided on a sparkly white stone. She asked me what I thought, and while I liked the others, I thought it was very pretty and would make the piercing that was completely for her eyes and her body look very special.
Tashi was incredible! I think I should give her much more credit for taking things smoothly as the cause of my friend's calmness than my own presence. She explained the procedure and asked if there were any questions, and then went about the tedious process of marking and checking. The walls of her little cubicle were adorned with her professional achievements but also other decorations. She was open to any questions and discussion, and I found her very easy to talk to. We ended up talking about the public views of piercing and piercing studios, and her desires to move the shop somewhere nicer and safer (the area does look a little like a demilitarized zone). I think all of these things helped keep the tension low and spirits up, and it wasn't just bullshit pleasantries.
Before we knew it, Tashi had changed her gloves yet again and had the needle in her hand, ready to go. I stepped back and told my friend, "This is it, I'll tell you what face you made afterward." She just laughed and followed the breathing instructions. On her second or third exhale, the needle was through and the look on her face was priceless. It was almost as if she was too shocked to say or do anything, sort of a wince, but with a look of wonder. The jewelery took a minute to insert, but soon it was all over. She got up and looked at it in the mirror, a little shaky but excited.
I helped her get herself together, and made her sit down and drink more of her soda. Tashi took pictures of it, since her navel is rather unusually shaped (long and narrow), and the piercing looked so good. I was so excited for her, and she and I went off to spend a wonderful day together. She turned to me for help with following her aftercare instructions, which I had some experience with, and I gave her my bottle of Bactine. She thanked me for being with her in words but also with the tie that the experience bound us with.
I feel as though being with her for that piercing was the single most strengthening experience we have shared. It was a moment of truth and bonding between us, and something I am very glad that we shared. Now, she has gotten a tattoo, one which I was supposed to be there for, but couldn't be due to classes. But she did make a 2-hour round trip to see me a 2am and show it to me.
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 15 May 1999
in Navel Piercing