The sound of the tattoo gun reverberated down the empty hallway as I stood outside the tattoo parlour for the first time. I had only ever consulted with my artist via text and it was suddenly overwhelming to be standing in front of the neon sign. To quote Eminem, my knees were weak, my palms were sweaty but thank god I didn’t have vomit on my sweater (even though I was starting to feel extremely nauseous). For a moment I thought to myself that I had nothing to lose by leaving. Unlike most tattoo parlous, they didn’t take a deposit from me and so I would literally lose nothing by walking away.
Something kept me there though — okay, maybe I paced a little back and forth — but something kept me in front of those neon lights. Despite my incredible fear of needles and my low pain tolerance, the thought of something important to me etched onto my skin for the rest of my life kept me there. The voice of my disappointed parents rang in my ear and I could only imagine how they would feel about it, but this tattoo wasn’t about them, it was about me. Although I probably paced outside the studio for about half an hour, the idea that I was finally doing something for me, that I was getting something that was important to me and that I’ve really wanted for a long time, and prepared for.
I had thought about getting a tattoo for years, contemplating its design and where it would go. The idea of an arrow was always in my head because an arrow to me represented life as an archer and me as an arrow. If life pulled me backwards, it was only to launch me into greater things (cheesy, I know). If I could have, I would have put it on my forearm so that I could always look at it. To keep it hidden, I decided instead to put it on my left side, just underneath my bra line.