My first tattoo! Siamese crocodiles – the West African adinkra for tribal unity and democracy. My search for the perfect design was many years long and after weeks of waiting for my December appointment I got in on a cancellation. A, D & Z wanted to be part of the experience so they met me at the studio for good luck. They were all adorable huddled together loving me as only they do. They went down the street for burritos while I took the ink.
I never got used to the buzzing of needles. True: the pain is hard to describe. Each fine line brought a new sensation. Most sensitive were the areas close to my hand and the curve of my arm. I worked to remain focused, reminding myself to breath. As predicted the endorphins did eventually kick in and make the pain more bearable. Three occupants were lying on tables next to me: a man having his entire stomach recolored, a woman finishing her sleeves, and a guy with the outline of a sea monster wrapped around his check, neck and back. My mark was undoubtedly innocent and tiny, but when it was done I couldn’t help but cry out, “I did it! Someone take a picture!” They laughed with the same comradery of… coke buddies. Me: no longer a virgin, bright pink bandage secured over fresh ink, “Care and Feeding of Your New Tattoo” in hand. They would be there all night, getting up intermittently to stretch their fingers and backs, and in the end they would each schedule their next session, and the next, and the next, until the work was someday complete. It was a cheerful goodbye.
They said I’d be back.