The Permanent Plunge
When the clock struck midnight and 2019 was no longer a future thought, like many people I sipped champagne and wondered what the year had in store for me.
The first month of every new year is a time of change and action. Many people hit the gym and others insist they will quit that job they really don’t want but actually really need. For me, I needed a change in appearance and I was gearing towards something more permanent than a fresh haircut (although I did get a haircut the next day).
Last semester I realized of all my new friends and even a few of my old ones I was one of the few without a tattoo. I found it strange on my part considering I had a folder on my Instagram dedicated to some of my favorite tattoo artists. I’ve known for a few years I had wanted one, I have friends who had gone just for spontaneity. Here I was, prepared, with enough cash and ink-less.
What was holding me back was the fear not just of the pain I might endure but what my parents would think. I have two biological parents and two step-parents totaling four guardians and possibly four disapprovals. I knew for a fact two of the four would be strongly against this idea, one I am still not sure and one I know who would be thrilled. Of the four my step-dad would understand and I figured my mom wouldn’t be too upset since she married a man inked with several. My dad and my step mom however, would be speechless (or should I say will).
When getting a tattoo you have to be absolutely, positively sure that you want it. I can’t stress it enough how certain one should be when making this decision its an obvious piece of advice but according to a survey conducted by Advanced Dermatology, of 600 respondents about 1 in 4 people who made a spontaneous decision to get tatted regretted it. Despite my fascination with getting a tattoo and having my friends egg me on for years the ultimate test to see if I really wanted one was when my friend Vivian actually booked the appointment a few days after discussing going together.
This was a big deal to me for many reasons. One being my knack for punctuality, its uncharacteristic of me to flake or arrive late on someone whose career is wrapped around a tight schedule. For this my dentist appreciates me and my friends and family get annoyed. On Tuesday, January 29th at 4:30 pm I would get my first tattoo.
That morning I woke up excited and also running late for class. I could barely pay attention in Macroeconomics and the anticipation was grueling. In the few hours between class and my appointment my mind could not focus on simple tasks it wasn’t until that day that I realized how certain I was about my decision; the simple thought of it made me jittery.
On the ride over I asked my friend who our artist would be, the man of the hour was Keith Bucella of Addiction Tattoos located on University Avenue. He was kind, patient, hilarious and straight from New York: can’t get a more perfect tattoo artist in Gainesville. After several minutes of having Keith run back and forth for our approval on designs and paperwork the clock was ticking and I would soon be up. I insisted on going second because my heart was racing as my nerves settled in but my leg was still shaking from excitement. When Vivian was done after only what felt like 5 minutes, it was time.
This was it, I have been waiting 4 years for the right moment, tediously figuring out the perfect tattoo that would make me smile and offer me comfort for the rest of my life. With incredible professionalism Keith gave me a play by play of what would happen, the tools he was using, the safe word, the position I would lay and when he would begin. I listened carefully and then put on my headphones blasting Frank Ocean to drown out the noise of the 5ml needle that would be poked into me. Within a minute of starting I discovered the pain was more uncomfortable than painful, and Keith could tell I was uncomfortable. He saw my face fall in a serious manner, he then stopped suddenly and yelled “damn it.” Before I could cry, Keith broke out in laughter and reassured me that we were both doing great and not to worry. If you don’t have family from New York or have never been, let me say they have a twisted sense of humor that can make you feel paranoid and happy all at once.
Within 15 minutes it was over. I was marked for life and full of shock. Keith did it, I did it, and Mariel captured it. The tattoo I picked was a wave designed by Korean artist Cootie Tattoos. I don’t have a strong meaning other than the fact that I love the ocean. I know with my future career I may have to travel and some places may not be within distance of water. The tattoo symbolizes my roots. It offers a sense of identity and contentedness that keeps my mind at ease.
The entire process of getting a tattoo is as fun as it is serious. I don’t recommend going because your friends want you to or because you stumble upon a shop on a free day. When you’re ready you’ll know. It’s something everyone needs to do at their own pace but when you finally get it done (and done right) the feeling is overwhelming in the best way possible.