Posted by wendiwendy
A while back, I casually told Paige that if I were to ever get a tattoo, I’d get some type of spiral. “Something that symbolizes the cochlea, for my cochlear implant,” I explained. Then I forgot about it entirely.
She asked about it again last month at Easter dinner, wondering if I was still planning to do it. “Oh no!” I laughed. “I’m too old for that kind of thing. I’ll leave it to you kids.”
And then I kept thinking about it. I started searching online for possible images, thought about the size and placement. Originally I wanted it right where my inner wrist begins. “I don’t know about that,” Dave cautioned. (He has two tattoos, one on his right arm and, well, basically his entire back.) “You’re going to see it all the time.”
“But I want to see it!” I argued. Still, he had a point. And there’s all those veins right there on your inner wrist; that would be painful, wouldn’t it? So I decided maybe further down, my forearm rather than my wrist.
I came up with a rough idea of what I wanted, after rejecting a few things. I knew I wanted it to be mainly black and then to gradually change to a reddish orange inside, to symbolize how my cochlear implant brings color to my world. I knew I wanted it to be about the size of a quarter or silver dollar. (Originally I wanted it teeny tiny, but I rejected that fairly quickly.) And I wanted it to be kind of rough looking, not smooth, perfect lines.
After I settled on what, I started checking out where. I read a lot of reviews and it didn’t take long to settle on a place called The Parlor Tattooing in St. Joseph, Michigan. I liked the work that they did, the place looked clean and spoke to me aesthetically, and the reviews were all positive. Dave called and they said I was welcome to come by for a consultation; because it was small, they might even be able to fit me in the same day. Otherwise, they were booked out until June.
Oddly enough, I didn’t think too much about whether it would hurt. I did do a search on the most painful places to get a tattoo, and one site said the wrist would be painful … as in, do that for your second or third tattoo, not your first. Other people were like, “Eh, no biggie.”
So yesterday, April 14, I realized it had been eight years since I went deaf. This used to be kind of a sad anniversary for me, but it doesn’t bother me anymore. I used to feel like I was the only person who’d gone through this horrible situation but now I know that I’m one of many, and we all just do what we gotta do. I have my CIs and I hear better with them than I did with hearing aids, after all. Instead of being maudlin, I decided to have a strange man permanently ink my body to commemorate the day. Why not?!
Now if you’re just a boring non-cool, non-hip person like me, going to a tattoo parlor is a little intimidating. As we drove there, Dave asked if I was nervous. “About getting the tattoo? No. I’m nervous about making small talk with the tattoo artist.” Yep; other people worry about whether it will hurt. I worry about whether I’ll be able to hear over the music and sound of the tattoo … machine? Gun? And what will I say to this person I probably have nothing in common with? Or will they even talk to me at all?
We got there about 20 minutes after they opened. I wasn’t sure I’d actually get a tattoo, but I figured I’d at least find out how much it cost and set up an appointment. The shop itself is really cool; lots to look at, the kind of color and décor that I usually gravitate to. There was a very tattooed, pierced, bearded guy standing outside when we walked up, and he nodded and smiled at us. Then he followed us inside and asked if he could help us. I explained what I wanted and he said, “You know, I can do it right now if you want.” No turning back now.
I showed him the image on my phone, and then came the scariest moment of the whole experience. “Oh yea, just email that to me,” he said casually as he handed me a form to fill out. “Oh fuck,” I thought. How do I email this thing? I’m not to the point where I’d try to text using my calculator or anything, but I don’t just casually email random images to people either. I nodded slowly as my brain frantically ran through the possibilities. I touched one button on my phone and … yea, that’s not the right one. I glanced around casually, hiding my panic as I tried to figure out how to do this without looking like an idiot. Finally I found the right button, clicked on Gmail and looked up at him. “Oh here, I’ll enter my email address while you fill that out.” He took the phone and I breathed a sigh of relief.
In case you’re wondering (I always did), they make a transfer of the image you want. They put it on your skin and then use that as a guide when they do the actual tattooing. “Do you want the edges rough like this?” he asked. I confirmed that I did, and he agreed that it looked better that way. Then we talked about the color. I was under the impression that switching colors was a big deal, so I was only planning on getting two colors. But he suggested having the color gradually go from dark red to orange, which I loved.
The whole thing lasted for maybe 40 minutes, and it never became painful. (The whole visit, from when we walked in until we walked out, took about an hour.)
And you guys, this kid was so nice and friendly. (If you ever go there for a tattoo, ask for Preston – you won’t be disappointed.) We chatted the whole time, and even Dave chimed in from the couch he was sitting on. There were three guys working there and they were all like that – friendly and open. The whole shop had a very casual, non-judgmental vibe.
I also noticed that every single client was a woman. There was a younger girl in her 20s getting her shoulder or upper arm done, me, and then someone a bit older (but younger than me) getting a tattoo on her ankle. I thought that was pretty cool – girl power and all.
So it’s done, and I absolutely love it. I do have to say that it takes some getting used to, because it’s a tattoo that I can see as opposed to something on my shoulder or something, where I’d have to use a mirror to see it. Yesterday I’d move my arm and think, Oh my god, what is that on my arm?! before I remembered, Oh yea … tattoo. In the winter I’ll rarely see it unless I push up my sleeve, but it will definitely be on view in the summer months. Since it’s on the inside of my forearm it’s not quite as noticeable, but it’s very colorful and it’s not small. The important thing is that it’s exactly what I wanted, and it has a lot of meaning for me. I smile whenever I see it. If somebody else doesn’t like it, they can take a hike, man.
Dave talked to my mom last night and he told her to sit down before he broke the news. (I figured she’d be upset about it.) Instead, she said she’s been thinking about getting one on her shoulder. I think I know just the place to take her the next time she visits. 🙂