Ok, I’m just gonna come out and say it…
I got a tattoo today!
My first tattoo. And probably my only tattoo.
I’ve always said if I ever did get a tattoo it would have some meaning, some significance. It wouldn’t just be some random design picked from some book at a tattoo studio.
For those of you who have been following my blog you know that I’ve gone through some definite ups and downs over the last while culminating in a profound and crazy decision to go to Phuket to find a little girl selling flowers.
My initial run in with her a couple of weeks ago woke me up. It made me realize how negative and jaded I had become. It made me change my focus from all the negatively and instead look at things from a different perspective.
A paradigm shift. Shifting my focus…
Ever since I made the decision to go back and find the girl I thought about getting a tattoo to remember the significance of the experience that was unfolding in front of me.
Finally today I sat down at a computer, typed in some text in a nice script font and there it was staring back at me on my screen.
be profound. be crazy.
shift your focus.
It was about 4pm and someone in the common room was looking to put on a DVD to watch. He asked which one we wanted to watch.
My response: I think I want to get a tattoo.
Dianna, the Mexican girl I had been hanging out with during the day, excitingly asked if she could come with me. I think she’s just a sadist but I was happy to have her come along.
There are tattoo parlors all over the place, especially around the seedy street our hostel is located just off of. I didn’t really want to go to one of those places though.
I went online to see if I could find a good place that was nearby. After a bit of searching, I finally found a place. Dianna and I went out the back gate of the hostel, down the empty road towards the BTS station.
We went that way because Songkran is still in full force which means anytime you step foot into the streets, you’re liable to be hit with water. This path took us away from the main crazy street I went up and down the night before.
I really, really didn’t want to be pelted with water as sitting in a tattoo parlor soaking wet really seems like no fun. Plus I had my backpack with me today because I was bringing the design on my laptop with me.
We actually made it all the way to the BTS station unscathed but now we were faced with the crazy streets once we got off the skytrain just 2 stops away.
I actually think people chose not to fire on us because I had my backpack with me. As crazy as it sounds, there is kind of a hidden code of respect when it comes to all the water fights. One of those codes seems to be don’t hit the guy with a backpack.
It didn’t mean that I wasn’t still extremely nervous as I passed by water gun after water gun. I kept looking over my shoulders trying to see where a hit may be coming from. It was a really surreal feeling, like what I imagine being in a war zone might feel like.
When we arrived at the street where the tattoo place was I immediately saw a problem.
This particular street was closed off to traffic as there was a huge party going on there complete with band on stage.
We snaked around the building looking for the place but it either moved or was closed for the day.
Either way, we didn’t find it.
Honestly, if it wasn’t for the fact that Dianna was with me, I probably would have just headed back and saved the tattoo for another city in another day.
But she saved me.
As we headed back, she talked me into trying the mall to see if maybe there was a place in there.
I was skeptical because since when are there tattoo parlors in a mall?
Well, in Bangkok, apparently this isn’t a problem as there were two in the same mall.
We excitingly looked at each other and it was at this moment that I knew that for 100% certainty I was getting a tattoo today.
The first place we went to took a picture of my laptop screen that she then scanned. It came out smaller than I wanted and the lettering was all jagged. This certainly didn’t instill alot of confidence in me. They already had someone else in the chair and told us it would be 40 minutes to wait.
I took that time to go up to the other tattoo place to see if I could get a better result.
Their 2500 baht quote was quickly changed to 2000 ($70) when I told them the place downstairs had quoted that amount.
I pulled out my laptop, changed my file into an image and uploaded it to a USB stick to put in their computer to print from.
It looked significantly better on the paper although it was still jagged lettering.
I was still a little worried and I was telling myself if I wasn’t happy with what they were going to put on me I’d just walk and wait for a better place on another day.
I watched intently as he traced the characters onto carbon paper and was pretty impressed. It looked awesome.
This was it. I was doing it.
He sat me down in the chair and applied the freshly traced stencil onto my left forearm.
There it lay in a purple outline waiting to be filled in.
The anticipation and nervousness I was feeling was so intense as I watched and waited for him to get his ink and needle ready.
Finally that ominous tattoo needle sound started and he poked me for the first time.
Oh, this wasn’t painful at all! Yes!
After he had filled in the first letter I was thinking, man, this is a piece of cake…
Then he went onto the second letter, a little further up the arm.
Oh. My. God.
As Dianna clicked away photos and videos I must have made every possible insane facial expression possible.
It wasn’t searing pain and when she asked me to describe it I told her it was like being stabbed repeatedly.
Which, of course, was exactly what was happening!
After 45 minutes, my tattoo was done.
I’m extremely happy with it and it will always be a constant reminder to live life a little differently.
A little better…
Other stuff went on today too… To read about the rest of the day, click here.