My First Tattoo
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My First Tattoo

There's a story behind every tattoo. Here's mine.

My First Tattoo
Jacquelyn Jarnagin

“Sugar Skull Tattoo.”

“Hi, I’d like to make an appointment to get a tattoo done.”

“Sure, can I have your name, please?”

“That’s Jackie, J-A-C-K…”



“Ma’am, are you still there?”

“Oh! Um, I’m sorry, I have to go.”


So ended my second attempt to get a tattoo.

Originally, I had wanted to get one a month after I’d gotten my belly button pierced. My mother said I was too young, and she was right — I was only sixteen at the time.

Plus, I still coward at the sight of a needle.

If I shrieked every time I got a flu shot, how in the world would I be able to handle a needle that moved?

Nevertheless, I had wanted a tattoo for years. Almost everyone in my family had a bit of ink on them — my cousin has a shamrock on his right shoulder in honor of his Irish heritage; my aunt has a Chinese character on her left foot to symbolize peace; and my other cousin in California had tattoos running up and down both arms, each one telling a different story.

Heck, even my grandfather has the word “Mom” on his left shoulder. You can guess the story there.

The point is, I wanted to have a symbolic way of showing the world an important chapter from the story of my life.

I figured the most important chapter that I could share with people would be the chapter of my childhood. When I was younger, I had dreams of going to places where anything was possible, places where I could meet new people and learn new things. And when I returned home from this special place, I could tell my loved ones all about it.

The most fantastic place I had ever hoped to visit was the land of Oz. "The Wizard of Oz" was my favorite movie growing up, and it still is to this day. There’s nothing about "The Wizard of Oz" I don’t cherish: from the music when the Wicked Witch of the West appears to the magnificent splendor of the bubble used by Glinda the Good Witch.

I especially love the morals this film teaches. My favorite is from Dorothy: “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard.”

So when I first started thinking about a tattoo, I was absolutely certain I had to get something pertaining to "The Wizard of Oz."

Only one object came to mind: Those Ruby Red Slippers.

Every time I had watched "The Wizard of Oz" on VHS, I always fantasized about owning Dorothy’s gorgeous shoes. I once had a pair of red Mary Janes, but they just weren’t the same.

I wanted the real deal.

I’m a huge kid at heart, and I decided that getting a tattoo of the Ruby Red Slippers would be a metaphor for getting the gift I had always wanted.

And the best part was, the slippers would be with me at all times.

There was no question of my tattoo’s location or its size: it would be small, located on my left wrist (I’m left-handed).

The only issue I had was going through with it.

Every time I called to make an appointment, I could hear that sinister buzzing noise coming from the needle and hang up. I could barely tolerate the sound, let alone the idea of it touching my skin.

So I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Finally, I knew I had to stop waiting. If I continued to just sit there and wait, nothing was going to happen. I had to force my brain and my heart to come together and get this done.

Towards the end of this summer, I talked it over with my parents. They were all for it, seeing as how I had been talking about it for the past five years.

“Get it done next month, in September,” My father advised. “That way you won’t have to worry about sunlight or swimming.”

True; I love swimming, and I learned from relatives that chlorine and ink are a bad combination.

The day I started my internship, I drove up to the body shop where I had gotten my belly button pierced five years ago (ironic, huh?) and spoke to an artist who would be available the following Saturday, my next day off. They accepted walk-ins, but being the cautious daughter I am, I wanted everything taken care of in advance.

I showed the artist where I wanted it and how big I wanted it to be. He said the design was doable, but if I wanted details (sparkles), I would have to increase the size just a little bit.

Reluctantly, I nodded.

He then sketched an outline to show me what it would look like. It was only in black and white, but it was more than enough to make me realize I had to do this.

I will be 21 in a few months, so it was time to start acting like an adult.

When the big day finally arrived, I knew I’d need all the support I could get. My father drove me to the tattoo parlor, and my mother walked in with me. I was handed some paperwork to fill out, and believe me — the fact that they looked at the paper and could read it was beyond me.

I have terrible handwriting, and on that day my hands were shaking so much you’d have thought I was getting a caffeine high.

Anyway, I filled out the paperwork and waited for the artist to come and get me.

When he did, I knew I was ready. I had looked at the pictures of all the customers that walked in blank and came out with a masterpiece, all beaming with pride.

I would soon be one of those people.

First, my wrist was scrubbed and shaved (to remove excess hair and dead skin cells), then it was sterilized. Next, my artist took out a black marker and drew the outline for the slippers. After a few minor adjustments, it was time.

I went out to collect my mother, who was more than happy to hold my hand as I lay down and got my ink done.

“Just hold perfectly still,” The artist instructed. “You don’t want your movements to be responsible for messing up your own tattoo.”

As he began, I was confused. Sure, I knew it would hurt, but it was not the pain I expected. If anything, it was no different than the times when my puppy would scratch me with her claws.

And let me tell you, her claws are no joke.

Nevertheless, as I laid down, I spoke with the artist about his career. He’d been doing this for over ten years now; admittedly, he still got nervous each time he got a new tattoo.

“It’s just who I am,” He confessed.

Before I knew it, the artist patted my wrist and told me to get up very slowly. “You may feel a bit lightheaded, which is normal.”

He pointed into the mirror, and I couldn’t suppress my grin.

There, on my left wrist, were the Ruby Red Slippers!

I thought of what Glinda said to Dorothy when they appeared on her feet: “There they are, and there they’ll stay.”

And I couldn’t be happier.

Of course, I did have to keep it covered for three hours, but I knew it would still look great.

As I gave the artist his tip, I had an interesting thought: What if I got a tattoo of the Yellow Brick Road starting from the slippers all the way to the top of my left shoulder?

Just a thought.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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