How I lost my “tattoo virginity”

I promised myself I’d never get one. I looked at the ones my mother and my sister had, and I was sure that I was turned off of tattoos forever, that the pain and healing process was not worth having what I considered to be just ink drawings on my body.

But things change, including my opinion of tattoos.

The Planning

It was about a month from Halloween when my mom called me and said she was planning on getting another tattoo with my sister. Out of the blue, I randomly blurted, “I want to get one too.” It was a completely random decision to get a tattoo, one I wasn’t completely sure about until I started looking for ideas.

The next two hours of my life were spent on Google images, searching for tattoo ideas that would match what I wanted. I knew I wanted something that was going to look good as I got older, but also had strong meaning to me, something that I was going to look back on 20 years from now and remember why I got it.

Photo by Mohammed F Emran
Photo by Mohammed F Emran

I finally settled on one design: a small, intricately lined cross that would end up going above my left ankle. It represented my strong Catholic faith; it represented the fact that no matter where I roamed, I would always have a little piece of faith with me, guiding my steps and lighting my path. I had made my decision, and I sent the design to my sister so she could send it to the tattoo artist.

The Day Of

The day of the appointment I was feeling a mix of emotions: excitement, nervousness, cold feet. We were up early (around 9:30 in the morning) to make it to our appointment at 11 a.m,  It was a rainy day, and we had to drive all the way to the tattoo parlor in Hialeah from our nook in North Miami.

The drive there was nerve-wracking, and I spent the majority of the time texting my friends and listening to music, attempting to calm down and gain more confidence for what was soon to be a very permanent decision. When we arrived, I took a deep breath, readying myself for the decision of a lifetime.

The wait was one of the hardest parts. I waited and watched while my sister got hers and my mom went next. It was a mix of looking at the TV and looking at my phone which I kept turning off to save battery because it hadn’t fully charged the night before.

I was still going back and forth in my mind on whether I should go through with it or not, whether or not I should make such a permanent life decision on Halloween of all days. My thinking came to a halt when my mom hopped off the chair.

I talked with the tattoo artist about what I wanted and where I wanted it, debating whether or not I wanted to add text to the top or the bottom of the tattoo, or if I wanted text at all. There were so many thoughts in my head and I felt like I was taking forever, so I started to get incredibly antsy and frustrated with my mom and my sister, since they were trying to suggest their opinions on what I should do.

It took about four tracings of the tattoo on my skin to finally settle on the one that would be etched on my skin for the rest of my life, and when we were finally ready to start, I saw my sister pull out her phone and begin to record. I just sat back and closed my eyes, letting the music playing in my ears take me to another place.

Then the pain began.

For the most part, the pain was manageable. It became intense – akin to the feeling of something splitting your skin in half at a fast rate – for maybe two minutes, and then I heard the great news.

“Alright, all done.”

I opened my eyes and looked upon my new piece of body art.

Apart from the few spots where there was some blood, I admired the accuracy of the black lines, the fact that it didn’t look like a mess or too masculine. It looked small and feminine. I couldn’t believe I had actually gone through with it.

“Keep it bandaged for about an hour,” said my tattoo artist. “And make sure you put some A&D [healing lotion] on it whenever it gets dry.”

I got off the seat, half expecting to feel pain when I stood up, but being pleasantly surprised at feeling nothing as I started walking. I took the $50 it cost out of my wallet, pleasantly said goodbye and walked out the door bandaged and proud.

The next hour home was spent with me constantly looking down at my ankle, admiring my new tattoo, taking pictures and enjoying it as it began to heal. When I took off the bandage an hour later, I was surprised to realize how real it felt and how proud I felt about having it.

While it was new, I didn’t feel weird or felt like it was out of place; it was a new part of me, just a new part of my self-expression.

Four months later

 Since getting the tattoo nearly four months ago, I still look at it and feel positive thoughts about it. I don’t regret it. In fact, I still peek at it and am happy with how pretty it continues to look.

The reactions from my friends and family were all welcome and positive: something for which I was grateful for. It was nerve-wracking enough to go through something that was so permanent and new, but it was soothing to have supportive reactions during the healing process.

While I love this tattoo and what it represents, I don’t think I’ll be getting another one anytime soon. There are many who get their first tattoo and then have an itching to go under the needle once again, but I don’t think that’s my case.

I’m very happy with the one I have, and at least for now, I’m happy to be a “once and done.” It was a life-changing experience, one that I don’t and won’t ever regret and I’m glad I can share it with the world (or, at least, you, the person who’s reading this article.)