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I had made the decision before I even left to drive home to Michigan that I wanted to get my tattoo over break. I think I needed to make sure that my best tattooed friends would be home to go with me so that 1) I felt assured that we were at a great parlor and 2) that they could be there to give me knowledgeable advice (like what to get and where, in what color, and how to take care of it after it was done). Besides, I had been slacking off on being outgoing, and it was about to be 2011; it was time to shake things up. I called my friend and left her a voice mail.

“Uh, hey, Kyla. So, I was thinking maybe if you’re free tomorrow we could go get those Michigan tattoos. Just a thought. If not, no biggie; we can go this summer instead. Anyway, just give me a call. Bye.”

As soon as I hung up, I felt a little panicky. Also, I knew that there was no way in hell I was going to reconsider this decision and go this summer if she wasn’t free tomorrow. Take a jog through my head with me in the seconds after I finished leaving her that voice mail:

What if she IS available to go tomorrow? Will I still go through with it? How badly will it hurt? What will my parents say? What will my husband think? What will HIS family think? Are there any more formal functions where I wouldn’t be able to have my ankle showing with a tattoo? Will I show the kids at school or pretend like it’s not there until someone points it out? It IS on my life list, after all. I HAVE wanted the same design for more than a few years and now, especially, more than ever that I’m no longer living there. I DID tell myself that if I still wanted one after I turned 21 I would allow myself to get one. Hmmm…

Kyla called back. She, Ellen, and Erika would be able to join me on our little escapade to mark my love for my original home indefinitely onto the inside of my left ankle. I called my husband and asked him what he thought about it. He said, “Go for it. If you want one, do it. It’s up to you; it’s your body!” I whined at him, trying to get him to talk me out of it because I was scared, “Yeah, but you have to look at me for the rest of our lives. Are you sure you’re okay with this?” “Of course.” Damn it.

So, the next day, my friends and I gathered around the computer in my living room to decide what each of us might be getting. Of course, Kyla already knew what she wanted, but Erika was (only a bit…) more indecisive. After an hour or so, we finally piled into my car and took off for East Lansing. Kyla had gotten a rather large piece on her back done at the parlor where we decided to go, and they were extremely clean and did a great job without overcharging. It took us an hour to get there and our appointment wasn’t until 5:30pm; so, we drove around and found a CVS where they showed me what to buy to take care of my tattoo. I bought Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion to apply three times daily after washing with Aveeno body wash. I picked Aveeno because it’s soothing and doesn’t have any scents or dyes that would further irritate my newly needled skin.

We got some hot chocolate/coffee and waited at a nearby cafe. Erika spoke loudly about how rude people were when they took up an entire couch at the back of a cafe when the seat is clearly meant for more than one person. God love her. I drank my drink and felt nervous. They kept telling me to relax and that it was no big deal. Finally, we took the snowy steps up to the tattoo parlor. Once I walked through those doors I knew there would be no talking myself out of it. I said I was going to get a tattoo, and I’m not one to go back on my word. I filled out the paperwork and sucked on a Sucrets to try to combat the coughing fits that had sprung up from the cold that had clawed at my lungs for the three weeks prior to that day.

“Uh, you’re going to want to not do that when he’s working on you.”


“Cough. You don’t want him to mess up because you moved. You have to stay really still.”


Not only did I have images of me bleeding to death from the excruciating pain I was anticipating, I also had this image of the tattoo artist shaking his head in disappointment that my tattoo of Michigan was completely scribbled over like a child’s picture because I could not help my bronchitis from shaking that needle in wild squiggles across my ankle. Ellen turned to me.

“It’ll be okay.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Want me to hold your hand and sing you lullabies?”

“Yes, please.”

The guy came out and asked me about what I wanted, what size, what color, and where. He got set up and then took me back with my entourage following behind me. I was nervous, but it wasn’t the butterflies in the stomach kind of nervous; it was the “Holy crap, is this actually happening?” kind of nervousness. I took off my boots, got up on the table, scrunched down my sock on my left foot, and listened to every word he told me.

“Don’t kick me in the face okay?”

“Has that happened before?”


“Okay, I’ll try really hard not to.”

“Stay really still.”

He walked me through was he was doing and so did Kyla and Ellen. Ellen held my hand, as promised, and I made ouchy faces and whimpered a bit saying “Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ooouuuuch.” I didn’t cry; there were no tears. There were, however, some fantastic pictures, some nervous laughter, and lots of “Oh, quit whining. He’s almost done. Seriously, you’re almost done.” It only took ten minutes, and I couldn’t be happier with the results!

Thanks John for the excellent and swift work!

I ❤ Michigan! That little red dot is a heart on Detroit.

Then, I waited with the others while they got theirs done. They, of course, did not say ouch; they’re not big sissies like me.

I don’t regret it one bit, and I don’t think I ever will. My husband’s parents were shocked and a little amused (I think) and so was my dad. My mother gave me crap for it, but she knows there’s nothing she can do about it except point out to me how ridiculous my ankles will look when I get pregnant.

I love my tattoo. It means a lot to me; it represents my first home, the place where 22 years of my life were spent making fantastic memories of living it up and trying to live with no regrets. It represents my youth, connects me to my friends, and reminds me of yet another adventure with some of the most remarkable and reliable people in my life (aside from my husband). Thanks ladies. ❤