Like most people, I've often thought about getting a tattoo throughout my life. I've thrown around different ideas, but was never quite certain enough on a design to go out and get it burned into my skin. That changed in 2010 when my father passed away. His personal symbol was a purple dragon, and I decided that was a design I could happily live with for the rest of my life. I started making plans and saving money.
At the end of every July and for the first couple weeks of August, my boyfriend Greg goes off and leaves me because he is a jerk. Last year while he was gone, I dyed my hair purple. (The under half was purple, the top was blond. It looked very cool.) I decided that this year, I should do something "crazy," too. My roommate Kimmy and I decided that this was the perfect opportunity for me to get my tattoo.
As soon as Greg was on his merry way, Kimmy and I started researching places to get tattoos. She already had two, and was in the market for a third. We settled on Eternal Tattoos in Livonia and headed over there one Sunday afternoon. There weren't any openings, but we talked to a guy named TJ about what we wanted and how much it would cost. The estimates were higher than we really wanted, but after shopping around at some other places, we returned the next day and talked more seriously.
TJ had recommended Kevin to me, saying that for TSR (the publishers of Dungeons & Dragons) style dragons, he was the man for the job. In D&D, each color dragon has a specific design, unique power, etc. And there is no purple dragon. My father made that up, which is why it was so difficult for us to find a purple dragon statue over the past many years. So there was no specific dragon I was going for.
I talked with Kevin about size, price, and what I was trying to go for (almost everyone assumed I wanted a Chinese dragon, but despite my BA in Asian Studies, I do not want a Chinese dragon even temporarily on my body). He understood, thankfully, and came back with the most absolute perfect sketch. The dragon's head was up, conveying pride, his claws were up and his tail arched, rather like the old European family crests. It was perfect.
I was a little worried about the pain, but figured I could handle it. To be honest, getting a tattoo turned out to be the second worst pain I have yet felt in my life. The first is when I had surgery on my ankle when I was in middle school. Every time my foot dropped to a level below my heart, it felt like my lower leg was consumed in fire. Kevin was much more forgiving than my ankle wound had been. Every time he lifted the needle, the pain basically went away. My ankle burned for weeks while it healed inside my cast.
While I was getting my tattoo, Kimmy was getting hers. She and TJ had hashed out a unique design that meant "Michigan" to Kimmy, six lightening bugs (she calls them fireflies) in a glass pop bottle that was meant to represent Faygo, though we later decided it was a wine bottle since Kimmy only likes Great Lakes wines (they're sweeter and more awesome than those from California). She finished first, and came in to see the coloring of my tattoo.
I was really happy to get my tattoo from a gamer. We talked about different campaigns that we had done, books we had read, and it really helped to pass the time. I think my tattoo took 2 hours in all, and the time did not drag at all. It helped that I was totally fascinated by the whole process. It was also $200, which honestly was worth it to me. I could have spent $200 on something else that was short-lived, like a new laptop that I don't need, or... I don't even know what. But this tattoo will be with me forever. And I love it. I have it on my right leg, so it's like Pa will be with me every step of my life.
All of my coworkers and bosses like my tattoo, and I am lucky that I work for two places that are accepting. It took a week or so, but I finally came up with a name, too: Erasmus Galen Draki Coburn the First. Hey, he's a dragon. He needed an impressive sounding name.