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A Piece of Americana

It is getting closer and closer to January 14th, 2006, my 30th birthday. Is there then any more appropriate time than now to go back in time?

It was the end of August 2002. I graduated from the university with my second M.A. two months prior and was getting ready to go to the States to continue my education for one year longer. I was excited and had many plans, none of them, though, involved body modification. I have already had 12 (?) earrings, both lobe and cartilage piercings, very short hair and this somewhat alternative look I was born with and which always makes me look a little weird in elegant dresses or white shirts but that was it. There were no plans for anything else.

A month after arriving to the new country and some adjusting I started feeling quite well in this new place and suddenly, out of the blue, I decided to pierce my eyebrow. This piercing was always very special to me and I wanted to have it but never had either time or money to make this dream of mine come true. This time I had some money and was able to find some time, so I made a few phone calls to find how much I would have to pay for that (that was my main concern back then). I took some addresses of local piercing parlors from yellow pages of my phone book and, with my heavy, quasi-German accent, called and asked about the cost and jewelry they would use. The idea was born long ago and my enthusiasm and will to finally make it happen started to grow as well.

Finally, on one of hot September days, I called for a taxi cab and waited for it to get to my address. It took over an hour or so and I already started to change my mind when the taxi finally arrived. The driver was an older African-American man with an accent that was very hard to understand for a foreign chick giddy with excitement and some nervousness. I told him where we were supposed to go and both of us embarked on a journey which for me would last forever.

The studio I chose, accidentally as I did not take into consideration any other factors except the cost and their readiness to pierce my body, was somewhere at the outskirts of the town, so it took a while to get there. On my way I could see the streets of South Bend changing more and more – these nice looking ones gradually changed for the streets with uneven surface and pieces of glass on it; well taken care of houses disappeared and I could see more and more of these with dirty walls and broken windows. Once, when we stopped on the traffic lights, I saw a weird car with music blasting from behind windows that were made from a big piece of cling film instead of glass. It was like traveling straight to a different world, differing significantly from this one I knew relatively well from the campus.

Even though I told the driver the address we were supposed to get to he could not find it, so he called the parlor on our way there to get more detailed directions. The shop was small and did not really look good but I was way too excited to back out. It had this strange, almost trailer-like look about it and was placed on the side of a sandy road in the middle of a suburban nowhere. I wanted to tell my taxi driver that he could pick me up an hour later but a lady who was at the shop said it would take only a few minutes, so the driver waited for me.

After filling out the form and paying for the piercing (I had to be reminded of it – somehow I thought I would need to do it after the procedure, not before) I could take a look around the parlor. It really was small and with no separate rooms for piercing or tattooing – everything was happening in one biggish room and I could see a big, bearded guy getting his biceps tattooed right in front of me.

My piercer had this nicely alternative and nonchalant look that I always liked. He was a little shorter than me (I am 5'11 or so) and I remember his calf tattoo – a dragon tattoo, with rather tribal look to it although if you asked me back then what "tribal" means, I would go definitely into an ethnological direction. I do not remember if he introduced himself; if so, I did not catch it. He had me sit on the chair, marked my eyebrow and asked me for approving it. I was way too giddy from the excitement that I was finally doing it to care about the placement, so I approved it right away. Having not known anything about body piercing at the time (I was one of these people who pierced themselves with sewing needles and safety pins) I imagined it had to be rather painful and time consuming. As it turned out, it took only a second or two and definitely did not hurt. Once I was done, I could get into the cab and drive straight to the campus, right on time to attend a sophisticated lecture on medieval culture. I did not tip the piercer – I was very very new to this whole body modification world and did not know that "tipping is not a city in China". A few weeks later, after discovering BME and immersing into the world it presented to me, I learned that tipping is a very appropriate thing to do and since that time I never forgot about it.

I do not remember if my first piercer ever provided me with any after care tips; he just gave me a small package of some ointment (A&D?) and told me to use it on the piercing. It seemed a bit weird to me, so I decided to stick to stuff I always used for my piercings and it always worked – hydrogene peroxide. Again, now I know better and am a sworn fan of sea salt soaks but back then it seemed good to use hydrogene peroxide and, surprisingly, I have never had problems with it.

The piercing healed well and after 6 weeks I could switch the CBR for a nice and better looking barbell. I think I was pierced with a 16ga but, again, I did not have a clue about gauges and proper jewelry, so I learned everything step by step, by means of my own experiences.

I wanted to go back to the same shop to ask them for help with changing my jewelry and to get my first tattoo (I am and have always been a very loyal customer – if I feel well somewhere or if I know only this place in a new environment, I go back there to support the business) but, seeing as this time I decided to ride my bike there and did not remember the exact place, I could not find it and instead, accidentally, found a different place. There I got my first tattoo ever, a very tiny kanji character meaning "blood" followed by two other characters two weeks later and a few other tattoos and piercings during next few months. I was hooked and I really enjoyed it.

Yes, I really enjoyed all this new process of changing my body – I have always been fascinated by changing my body – running, working out, watching how my body metamorphed into a well working machine; and suddenly I came across this new form of expression, both body piercings and tattoos, that not only complemented my body in a new, wonderful way but also allowed me to express or commemorate my feelings and experiences. It really was fascinating and great. Unfortunately there are always people who exist solely to destroy your good mood, crash your growing self-confidence and tell you that things you do are totally irresponsible to say the least and you always get to meet them. The same happened to me. Obviously being 26 at the time of getting my first body piercing other than my ears was WAY too late and some people could not resist the urge to tell me that. "Don't you think you're a bit too old for that?" "Why, on Earth, you want to do something like that?" "Isn't it the waste of your time and money?" I am sure that some of you know these words all too well. I felt hurt and hated that they asked me such questions. No, I did not think it was too late because only then and there I finally was able to find the right time and (maybe not so right) place to do that; I decided to do it because I wanted to feel how, on Earth, it felt to get your eyebrow pierced and I have always not only dreamt about it but also liked the look; nope, it was not the waste of time and money because it made me feel good and let me experience and see something I would never get to see otherwise.

I stopped to care what others would think or say. There are many important things I learned during my stay in America these few years ago but two of them are – 1. America is not only this Promised Land you get to see on TV, with only rich people and beautiful houses but, maybe even above all, a place where you can also see litter on the streets, a drunkard in a public park and people whose cars are not the newest and most expensive models out there; 2. no matter how old or young you are no one has a right to tell you what you should do and what you should look like – you are totally free in this regard and screw those who think otherwise. Important lessons and I learned them well!

Now, three years later, I still have my eyebrow piercing. It might grow out slightly as I have to change the bar for a retainer almost every day but it is still there. I still vividly remember my journey on the cab into a different world – from a snobby campus right to a shady neighborhood at the outskirts of the town and meeting people who differed so much from college professors I usually met on the campus. This one tiny piercing started it all and the urge to finally make it happen took me not only to the shady street somewhere at the end of an ordinary Midwestern American town but also led me to discovering and frequenting BME more and more often, learning more and more about proper after care, so many different and sometimes even hard to imagine piercings and being true and loyal to my own body and the way I feel about it. It let me know great people, experience great things, develop both my knowledge and personality. And even though I brought back many great books, new knowledge and a few other things from my trip to the States, my eyebrow piercing is one of the greatest and most valuable pieces of Americana I could dream of.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 12 Jan. 2006
in Eyebrow Piercing

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Artist: don%27t+remember
Studio: Cosmic+Ink
Location: South+Bend%2C+IN

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