My first tattoo experience

It’s the hottest day of the year and I’m off to go and visit my literally-known-her-for-forever-minus-three-weeks friend Freya. She greets me at the station and gives me the news that we’re off to a tattoo parlour, where her friend Em already is. My heartrate increases.

Freya and Em are planning to get their third and first tattoos respectively (yes the title is a clickbait title haha). They’re both getting tattoos of a swallow, Em explains that it relates to a favourite song from the choir they were both part of + the symbolism of freedom etc. I am in awe of how casual they are about this.

I feel like I’ve always been more cautious than Freya, and I think it’s definitely showing. Both Freya and Em quite quickly make decisions about size, angle and position, decisions that I’m pretty sure I would agonize over if tables were turned. I cannot contain my laughter when I find out that the tattoo they are getting is the first google result for the search “silhouette swallow”. If this was me I would have scoured the entirety of google looking for the epitome of swallow perfection, and settled on one twenty pages in. I admire their audacity. I take the last photo of Freya’s shoulder sans tattoo.


I realise at this point that I’m actually fascinated by the whole process. The permanence of what’s happening adds a weight of consequence that I’m not sure I know how to handle. It makes the whole situation feel quite surreal. Also, I’m just curious, 30 minutes ago I had absolutely no clue how you would go about getting a tattoo. I think Freya and Em are amused by the strange mixture of excitement, anticipation and wariness being exhibited in my behaviour. Wariness because my worst nightmares revolve around undergoing surgical procedures and I am entirely failing to understand the appeal of subjecting yourself to the pain of a tattoo. I then recognise that because of this I’m getting a slight macabre thrill from the whole thing. Interesting.

I am relieved when the process is over and they are both smiling. It’s been emotional and I don’t think a second visit will be happening any time soon. But I am also very grateful for a new experience and to have learned a little more about myself in the process.


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