I feel as though if I had polled my friends and family back in July when I originally posted my 30 before 30 list, this is the item that most of you would have filed under “unlikely”. And I might have agreed with you, to be perfectly honest. I have wanted to get a tattoo for at least ten years (I distinctly remember sitting in dorm rooms in college talking about what I’d get if I ever got the nerve). I just really didn’t think I’d ever have the balls to get one for real.
I also have always had trouble nailing down what kind of tattoo I’d get, let alone where I would want it to go. And those are two pretty important aspects of choosing to get a tattoo. So I held off. The idea started to seem a little more attainable a few years ago when my brother got his rampant lion tattoo, though. He had an artist he liked and trusted, and perhaps more importantly, he had That Discussion with our parents and lived to tell the tale.
Cut to a little over a year ago, when my beloved grandmother became very sick and passed away. It was a very difficult time for all of us, but we found a lot of comfort in her outlook on life. I have often felt a little bit like Ghami was a misplaced hippie who was not really religious but very spiritual. Every card any of us received from her said “Heads up!” or “Feel the wind” alongside stick-figure drawings with short hair, hoop earrings, and a twirly skirt. It was her wise way of reminding us to take time to enjoy the moments in life, to focus on the details instead of the heavy stuff, to pause. And it never meant more than it did last spring.
It seemed like the perfect thing for a tattoo, but I had a lot of trouble figuring out how to symbolize the feel the wind spirit in an image. And after a week or so, it hit me, because sitting right on my desk was a tiny card I had bought at Paper Source sometime last winter, orange ink on white, a single dandelion with the seeds blowing in the wind. It was everything I wanted to convey – the wind, hope, details, wishes… perfect.
So I left that card (and the idea) on my desk for over a year. I wanted to make sure I loved the idea after months of staring at it as much as I did when I first thought of it. And sure enough, I did. And after becoming mildly obsessed (in a totally cool, not-creepy-but-friendly way) with the tattoo Jodi got on the top of her foot, I had found my ideal location. Visible when I want it to be, easy to see myself, and easy enough to cover, too.
After a few stops and starts, my brother and I showed up bright and early (or, at noon on the nose) a few Saturdays ago to get my tattoo. I showed Erik a few dandelion designs that I had printed, and he then drew up his own design, one that managed to take all of my favorite parts and combine them into the perfect design. Three dandelions, because three’s a good number, and lots of wind.
People keep asking me if it hurt, and I’m not sure what to say. It wasn’t unbearable, I didn’t cry, but it hurt like hell. And certain spots? Hurt even worse than that. About five minutes in, I started to feel kind of clammy and light-headed. I’m not a fainter, but I surely didn’t want to find out what it’s like in a tattoo shop. So we took a short break, and I chewed some gum and gulped down some soda. (I didn’t end up needing my emergency Skittles, as it turned out. Yes, I brought emergency Skittles.) After that, I’m not sure what changed, but while the pain was exactly as bad, it was somehow easier to deal with. My brother was there to talk to me through the hour, and I’m so glad for that. It wasn’t exactly something I’d recommend, but I got through it just fine.
About halfway through my tattoo, a for-serious biker dude came in to say hi to Erik. Long white ponytail, beard, leather vest, LOTS of tattoos. He scoped out my work in progress, and said to me, “So how does that feel?” I’m not sure how I responded, but it was probably something intelligent like “Well it’s not fun.” And then he said, “my feet are the only spot I’m NEVER getting tattooed.” And luckily, that made me feel like a champion, rather than unwise.
And then suddenly it was done, and it was amazing. Bigger than I expected, more painful than I could have guessed, but amazing. I probably left the bandage on longer than I needed to, because I was so freaked about screwing up the healing process.
all bandaged up, two hours later and so swollen and sore. I was so nervous to take the bandage off; it was a strange few hours between getting it done and then confronting the reality. Not that the overall soreness made it easy to forget during those hours!
Now that it has just about fully healed, and I’ve been looking at it, for real, on my own foot, I’m completely in love. It’s just so pretty. (And most people’s first comment is that it’s beautiful, and that’s nice, too, but I was prepared for some not-as-positive comments, too. It IS very visible.) My dad said to me the other night, “Hey, what happened to your foot?!”, which means that he’s getting used to it, too.
And hell, I just really can’t believe I really did it. That is just so damn cool.