Fear. Pain. Relief. Beauty.
I walked nervously through the door, I had done this before but the trepidation was still present. I was going at this experience alone. The first time I had someone with me, holding my hand telling me, “everything will be all right”; everything was all right, so why was I do afraid?
A man, who I later realized I had spoken to on the phone, approached me “What are you here for?” He wasn’t much taller than me but he was broad shouldered and wore a tight, long-sleeved, black t-shirt. He was apparently trying to look tougher than he was walking toward me with his arms out as if he were holding a gallon of water in each hand.
“Um.” I managed as I handed him a piece of paper.
“Give me a minute. Let me see what I can do about fixing this for you.” he said as he walked away behind a desk that I could barely see over. Fix what I thought. Everything was in order, but he was the professional so who am I to judge.
The waiting room was too sterile. The artwork on the walls too manic I wanted to leave. I paced the room. Looking from the floor to the walls to the top of the man’s behind to too tall desk. What is taking so long? I gave him exactly what I needed. I longed for someone to be with me. Do I call a friend to meet me or just suffer through this alone? I felt weak but knew I was stronger than my gut was telling me at the moment. I’d have to wait.
No one walked in or out of the front door. Music played but so softly that I couldn’t decipher what was being played and then I heard over the silence, “Follow me.”
I walked behind the man in the tight black t-shirt into a small room with a chair that looked incredibly uncomfortable. There was a mirror on the wall with photos of a family and thank you cards taped around the perimeter.
“This is Adam. He’ll be taking care of you.” said the man with the clear Napoleon complex handing Adam another piece of paper, not the one I had brought with me. Although I did see that it contained the same information.
“Is this your first time?” Adam asked. He was a sweet man. The pictures on the mirror were of his family; a wife and two little girls. He was beaming when he told me how long he was married and when his daughters were born. I was less stressed at that point. Adam was such a laid back man it was impossible to be nervous.
“I’ve done this once before so I’m no pro.” I responded.
“Ah. It’s always better the second time around. And it only gets better the more times you return.” Adam assured me as I removed my long-sleeved hooded sweatshirt and situated myself in the chair that was more comfortable than it originally portrayed itself to be.
After some conversation about how the procedure would go and organizing the necessary tools Adam looked at me with excitement in his eyes, “You ready?” he said.
“As I’ll ever be.” I replied trying hard to mask my feelings.
“OK. I’ll need you to face the wall. Don’t worry. I’ll talk you through everything I am doing so you aren’t just sitting there wondering what is going on the whole time. It’ll only hurt for a second. Ha. I can’t tell you how many times a week I say that!” he laughed.
Not being able to see what was happening was nerve wracking at first. The initial sharp pain of the needle piercing my skin was almost unbearable. I must have flinched or tensed up because Adam started asking me questions to distract me from the sound and pain. We talked for the entire hour. I told him I was a student and I was hoping to become an English teacher. He said he had more clients that were teachers than most people would believe. After fifteen minutes or so the initial pain subsided and I relaxed. The low hum of the machine was fairly relaxing and the casual, coolness of Adam made everything seem perfect.
When the hour was over Adam asked, “How was it?”
“Not as bad as I expected. But I told you I’ve done this before so I sorta knew what to expect”
“Well, take a look!” Adam ordered handing me a small mirror.
I turned by back to the mirrored wall and used the hand mirror to reveal the beautiful tattoo of my mother’s handwriting and flowers colored with our favorite colors: yellow and purple. I was more than pleased with the work. It was well worth the stress and the pain. I paid and thanked Adam for his excellent work and for keeping me at ease.
“Just tell your friends to come here if they ever need work done. And come back yourself! I’m telling you it gets better every time”
“We’ll see.” I said as I walked out of the tattoo parlor. The sun had set by the time I left and the cool late spring breeze stung my skin. It didn’t matter. I was pleased with my new addition. My mother would have loved the tattoo.