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My first time.

I remember about three years ago, I was sitting right where I am now, looking at tattoo designs. I had waited a year after becoming 18 before I started to think about my first tattoo, mostly because I decided to save getting a tattoo until I became more focused, and there's a lot of steam to blow off when you graduate. So, about a year passed, and I was thinking more seriously about getting a tattoo, and I started to really take it seriously. This was the first time that I really had put much thought into anything that I was doing. High school was always pretty easy for me, so I never really had to focus. It took me about two weeks of vigorous searching to find a design that I could really see myself carrying under the skin forever. It was a tiger and a dragon tribal piece. Not the most original, but it meant something to me, I'm born under the year of the tiger, and my mother is the year of the dragon. (Chinese zodiac.)

I remember how much anticipation I had. How my heart thumped in my chest. I heard from a friend that it hurt like hell, but I didn't care, all I could think about was how much I needed to have it under my skin. Ever since I can remember, I've always been mesmerized by the beauty that is tattoo, I would not be denied that beauty, pain be damned. I had decided to go on new years eve, the whole new beginnings bs, corny I know.

I walked around downtown, I knew of the local tattoo shop, addictions, and thought I might try to find it. But I had never been there and I didn't know where to start looking. During my blind walk around downtown, I somehow managed to find another tattoo shop. Wasn't too hard, there in big bold letters on a yellow background was "Oregon Tattoo." right in front of me. I nervously walked in, took a deep breath and held in what I saw. There was flash everywhere, the smell of ink and blood mixing, the sound of the machines going. It was almost intoxicating.

And so one of the artists noticed me standing there like a quiet mouse. "You need some help?" he asked. "Yea, I'd like to get this tattooed today." I brought out the drawing I had printed off the computer and handed it to him. And so he started tracing and I started walking through the shop and just nervously looked through the flash on the walls. My stomach was in knots with anticipation and shot nerves. (I found out later when I came back to the shop that his name was Pete, and recently he's done work on my chest.)

He finished and handed it off to Gary, the shop owner. And he stuck it right on my upper arm and said "take a look." I just said "Awesome man." He was getting ready and started to pour the pigment in the little plastic...pigment holder. (Sorry, I don't know what they call it, think I would by now. I should ask next time I pop in.)

He was cool as ice, doing what he does, just another day for him. But for me, it was like finding religion. There was a lot going through my head, I never felt so much at once before that day. It was like going to church for the first time when you're a little kid, and you can feel the energy around you from all the people and it feels good but it's all so new and it makes you nervous at the same time.

"So, am I going to jerk when you do this?" I asked half laughing and anticipating a lot of pain. "We'll see." He replied, and then the machine started to make that mesmerizing sound. ".......Is that it? What the hell is painful about that? It feels nice, actually." I thought. The whole time I was just sitting there, enjoying the feeling of the ink going into my skin, talking to him about whatever came to mind. About what got him interested in body art. He was a college professor at one point, but he went back to tattoos, he had two old school birds, one on each lower arm. (Since then, he's got a wicked sleeve.) Nice guy.

The time flew by, yet I could feel every single moment pass. Before I knew it, we were done. I hopped up out of the chair, and went straight to the mirror, and I couldn't help but smile. I said, "Oh wow, this is amazing! Thank you so much man!" and then I paid the man, and shook his hand. Walked out of that place like everything in my life was somehow better, like God just gave me an enema and all the shit that was clogging up my soul was gone. I felt at peace with everything, completely mellow and as if the world flowed with me and I with it.

It was my first tattoo, and I'll never forget the experience. Of course now I have more, and I'm going to get many more. But nothing's ever exactly like the first time you do it. And I'll always remember my first tattoo until the day I die.


submitted by: Napkin man
on: 30 Oct. 2008
in Tattoos

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Artist: Gary
Studio: Oregon+tattoo
Location: Salem+Oregon

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