It's time for the big reveal! You may remember that my husband gave me a gift certificate for an amazing tattoo artist for Christmas. (If you don't remember, catch up by reading my Word of the Year: Badass post.)
I'd been thinking about getting a second tattoo for the last few years (my first was nearly 17 years ago when I turned 20). I got that one because I liked tattoos on other people. I thought it would be a cool thing to have and quite unexpected of me. I was in that wanting-to-do-unusual-things place.
Fast forward and I'm 36 and wanting a new tattoo- a work of art that will be colorful and totally me. Something on the back of my shoulder that can peek out from tank tops.
After a lot of talk on my part, my husband found an incredible tattoo artist - William Webb of Evolution Tattoo - and my journey to new ink began.
Billy (because I prefer his nickname) is a true artist. The level of shading and detail he can achieve on skin is amazing to me.
And I guess because he's so good, he can set appointments however he chooses. And he chooses to have people line up on the first of each month to make an appointment for two months later.
So on February 1, my husband and I stood outside on a thankfully not-too-cold day for an hour waiting to make an appointment. (Arriving an hour before they opened we were number 4 in a line that grew to probably 30 people by the time we left.) I snatched up the first available appointment- a full day on April 16. When asked what I wanted to get I said, "I'm still deciding. Possibly butterflies or a tree."
Since Christmas I had been collecting tattoo and art ideas on a Pinterest board. I chose images because I liked the colors or the style or the subject matter. And as much as I thought I'd get a butterfly, the more butterfly tattoos I saw, the less I wanted one.
I gravitated toward twisty trees and whimsical little girls. I added paintings and photographs with girls hanging stars, stars hanging from the sky, swirls of butterflies.
About a month before my appointment I emailed Billy a link to the Pinterest board and an email that said, "I'm thinking maybe a girl looking up at the stars. But I also like trees and butterflies and whimsical things and warm colors." (Okay it was a longer email than that, but that was the gist.)
My husband worried I might not have provided clear enough direction. I hoped we could work it out during the first bit of my appointment. I mean, I really wasn't looking forward to being needled that entire time. The more time we took up with artwork, the better.
April 16 finally arrived and my husband and I walked into Evolution. He started looking at some of the art on the walls, but I had already spotted my tattoo.
Billy sat at the front desk with a sketch in front of him that was more perfect than anything I could have found myself: a girl sitting in a twisty tree holding onto a star tied to a string as butterflies flutter about.
"Is that my tattoo?" I asked.
Billy looked down at it and said, "Well, I was working on this idea based on what I saw on your Pinterest. I don't really understand Pinterest, but I printed it all up and did what I could." He told me he could make any changes or start with something different entirely.
"No," I said. "That's my tattoo. I love it. It's perfect."
Billy set up his work station while I grew increasingly nervous and tried to make small talk with the other guys at Evolution.
We got started and with those first few pricks I thought, "Yep, this ought to be a long day." Because it certainly hurts.
My husband was able to stay with me for the first few hours, then he had to catch a plane for business. (He didn't even get to see the finished tattoo until two days later!)
After that, I was thankful that the other guys at Evolution kept popping in to watch Billy work. They asked if the audience bothered me and I said, "No. It helps to have people to talk to."
I have to say I was really proud of myself. Before that day arrived, I kind of thought I might cry. But I didn't. Not one errant tear. I took Susannah Conway's advice to "smile through the pain." It kind of worked. Chewing ferociously on gum also helped. And, of course, so did the distraction of visitors.
Side note: I had noticed this weird phenomenon that people who had given birth said their tattoos didn't hurt, while people who hadn't given birth said their tattoos did hurt. Well, women who have given birth lie. Tattoos still hurt, but I think there is some truth to the statement in that birth gives you practice of sitting through pain for a loooooooooooong time. That's my theory anyway.
It took five hours to complete my new tattoo. And when Billy said, "We're done," I told him those just might be my favorite words he said all day.
Now it's had some time to heal. I've survived the next day "oh-my-goodness-that's-bigger-than-I-planned-on-getting" anxiety, the obsessive cleaning and caretaking, and the itchy peeling.
I've even found myself with a new conundrum- choosing tank tops that will complement my tattoo in color. (Yes, I actually stood in a store putting a light blue tank back after thinking it would probably look horrible next to the vivid colors of my new ink. I chose this dark green one instead.) Weird problems.
I love my new tattoo. Every time I catch a glimpse in the mirror it makes me smile. And every time I think "It's so pretty!" Every. Single. Time.
I also love the way it peeks out at the top of a wide-neck shirt with just the star and the tippy tops of the tree branches.
It's my new favorite accessory (which is damn good considering it's permanent).
In other news, I want to remind you that my new monthly newsletter starts this Sunday! If you sign up, you'll also get to play along in my very first Wonder Seeker Photo Challenge which I'm running next week.
Sign up by entering your email in the field at the top of my sidebar or go to the Wonder Seeker Photo Challenge page (one sign up gets you both the newsletter and the Wonder Seeker).