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Birthday Butterfly

r really thought I would get a tattoo--it seemed like such a bigcommitment: something that would be with me forever. Like marriage. I didn't feel ready to make a decision about that for a long time. I suppose I've wanted a tattoo since I was a senior in high school, but it was more of an abstract kind of wish. I didn't really have anything I specifically wanted, except for a bracelet on my arm or ankle. As time passed, I decided that I really did want a tattoo, except I don't want something on my arm or ankle right now (due to its high visibility). So, I needed another design. When watching my friend and roommate, Lissa, get her tattoo from Fish at Perforations, my fear of the pain dissolved. After that, I was actively searching for something. Finally I found a beautiful pink and blue butterfly on the Internet. That was the jumping off point for mine. Anyway, Lissa got her tattoo on Dec. 4. Around Dec. 7, I found that butterfly, and on the 16th, I got an estimate from Fish (the artist) for $90-$100. (He ended up only charging me $80--but DON'T forget to tip your artist!) Fish predicted that it would probably take two sittings due to the detail involved. (I'm happy to say that we got it all done in one sitting!!) I decided to get the butterfly for my birthday. At first, it was because I knew I would have extra money to play around with. But over the next couple of months, it turned into a present for me, from me. I think that's pretty special actually--a commemoration of my twentieth birthday, a symbolic departure from my teens. So I decided to get the tattoo on the Friday night before for my birthday, since my actual birthday was on a Wednesday and I didn't want to have to rush anything that day. So, I made an appointment for Friday, February 4, 2000 at 7 p.m. Fish, who we've been kinda getting to know over these past few months, made a tracing of the original butterfly and we worked out a design that was unique and different from the image I'd brought in. Because, really, who wants to have the same tattoo that someone else has? So now I have a very lovely and very painful butterfly on the small of my back. It's actually much higher than I'd planned--it's right in the curve of my spine (I'd been planning on my much lower back so it would hurt less, but despite all the pain, higher was better (looking) ). To give you an idea of where it is, the bottom of it is where the waistband of my jeans normally sits. So it's pretty high, which will also be good if I ever get around to wearing bikinis again. Fish said he did it like he would do a portrait tattoo, meaning that it's very detailed with the colors and shading and all. I have blue, purple, pink, yellow, and red. As for the pain, well it was indescribable. It was definitely the most painful thing I've ever felt in my life, ever. Unlike other people, I did not just numb out after a few minutes. (Although there were times that it hurt less han others.) Generally, it hurt less when he was inking me close to the spine, although it did hurt my vertebrae (no joke). The fleshy parts hurt a bit more. It took an hour and ten minutes, and that seemed like a long time, but despite the pain, it didn't seem that long. I asked him to stop a few times when the pain got to be too much. He would, briefly, but he said that the longer we waited, the more if would hurt, because my endorphin levels would go down. He knew what he was talking about, because each time he switched colors, when he started up again, it hurt much worse. Every time the needles were out, it stopped hurting almost immediately. Anyway, it hurt quite a bit for the first three days--it felt like a very bad sunburn. It scabbed over almost immediately. I was able to sleep on it the third night. It started peeling around the 5th day and was completely peeled by the morning of the seventh. All in all, I'm really, really happy with it and totally glad that I did it. It's absolutely beautiful and I'm very proud of it. It's a wonderful symbol to remind me of who I am right now. In many years, even if my piercings are all gone, I will always have this butterfly fluttering in the small of my back, reminding me of myself at 20. And that's a pretty great birthday gift. As for other tattoos, yes, there are 3 more that I want (another butterfly-a monach, a blond pixie that looks like me, and yes, an ankle bracelet), but I want to hold off for now to make sure that each other is given the attention and time they deserve to be enjoyed.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 19 Feb. 2000
in Tattoos

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Artist: Fish
Studio: Perforations+DC
Location: 1829+M+St.%2C+NW+Washington%2C+DC

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