After several years of serious, serious consideration, I finally did it. I got a tattoo. While most people would think this was not a big deal, especially the ones already tattooed several times over (and by several I mean more than one), this was a big damn deal to me. Those of you that are keenly aware of my inability to make any kind of non life-threatening decision can well imagine the kind of mental debate that raged for years over this.
I was obsessed with whether or not I wanted something permanent on my body. Then with where to get it. I'm a big-picture kind of gal, so it was important to me that it not be in a place that would eventually end up...drifting, or in a place that could get...larger...over time. Throw into the mix the fact that I wanted it to be in a place I could see (what's the point of having one if you always have to rely on someone else's opinion as to how it looks?), but also in a place that wouldn't be too painful to get done, and I wasn't left with a whole lot of tattooing room.
I had ruled out places like the sides of my shoulders (I'm always reminded of old school bikers sportin' heart tattoos with the word "MOM" stenciled across it), my hips (see aforementioned drifting and enlarging concerns), or my hands or feet (OUCH!). So that pretty much left somewhere on my legs. Since they're pretty "meaty" (you already know that story), the drifting/sagging factor is relatively low and if they get any bigger I'll have to shoot myself; all that was left was leg location.
If I got it high enough on my leg that it could be covered by shorts, then chances were pretty good no one other than Harry would ever see the damn thing, because believe me when I tell you the size of my thigh is an acquired appreciation. Anywhere around the knee region was out. My knees are one of the few visible bones on my body, and I wasn't willing to endure that kind of needle-to-bone suffering. Besides, getting a knee tattoo is just weird. A lot of folks suggested the area just above the ankle bone, but again, that's one of the few areas not protected by a generous layer of...insulation. So I finally (finally!) decided on the upper right side of my calf. Nothing too big, nothing too small, something in the 2-3" range. Now I was ready to get tattooed, right?
Silly, silly people. That just solved WHERE I would get the tattoo. I still had to decide on WHAT I wanted to have permanently inked to my body*. It had to be something I loved, something I would never get sick of. Something that I would always have fond memories of or always enjoy. I briefly toyed with the idea of getting something that had my kids' names on it. For a while I seriously considered two little dolphins (who doesn't love dolphins??) - one pink, one blue - jumping out of some waves with Katie and Christopher (respectively) written on them.
But then my paranoia and superstition kicked in and I was worried that if I did something like tattoo my kids' names on my body something bad would happen to them (hey, you should know by now that my neurosis runs deep & wide), so that went out the window. Don't even get me started on what would happen if I tattooed Harry's name on me.
Then one day as I was ordering more Hello Kitty purses (I'm Asian and female, if I don't have an unhealthy obsession with all things Hello Kitty they take away my Chinesey-ness), it hit me: what are the two things over which I obsess the most? Hello Kitty and roller derby! Eureka!
So I sent a quick message to my friend (and fellow Hello Kitty obsessor - yes, she's Asian too) Elli asking her if she could come up with a cool Hello Kitty-derby girl tattoo. Harry had come up with a rough concept of what I wanted, but I wanted her to put her creative spin on it. She of course agreed (again, how do you say no to Hello Kitty?), and Harry and I were on a road trip to Kentucky to pop my tattoo cherry.
Why Kentucky? That's where Elli lives and works. And your first time for anything should always be with someone you trust. So we showed up (after a seriously fun practice with the ROCK derby league - they are the sweetest people EVER) and Elli showed me what she had in mind.
I finally believe in love at first sight. She was beautiful. Tough, cute and totally derby girl through and through, yet still very much Hello Kitty. Perfect.
When Elli was ready to start tattooing, I was incredibly nervous. The tattooed folks I polled about pain ranged in scale from "not that bad" to "hurt like a motherfucking BITCH" - but everyone emphasized "make no doubt about it - it HURTS." Great. So I lay down with my leg exposed and braced myself for the pain. And I secretly hoped I wouldn't sob like a baby or (God forbid) ask her to stop all together and have to walk away in shame with a partial Hello Kittty tattoo stuck on my leg as a permanent, humiliating reminder of the day I became a chicken shit.
Elli said, "Okay, I'm going to start now," and the machine kicked in and the sound of drilling (all I could imagine was a dental office and images of root canals and teeth extractions immediately came to mind) filled the air. I held my breath. Clenched my teeth. My hands were curled into tight fists. I squeezed my eyes shut. All in preparation for the impending (possibly unbearable) pain.
And it wasn't that bad. I mean, everyone's right - it does hurt, but it's not so horrible that you can't hold a conversation or think coherent thoughts. In fact, there were a few moments where it was actually kind of peaceful and relaxing. Like a massage almost. And there were a few moments where I really did have to clench my teeth and keep from yelling out loud. Thankfully those were short lived.
When it was all said and done (roughly 90 minutes later), I had a beautiful, permanent reminder of my favorite obsessions. And I'm hooked. I'm already planning my next one. It'll be on the upper side of my left calf. Because I can't walk around all lopsided with only one tattoo on one leg, you know. That'd be weird.
*yes, it really is exhausting being me.