Thursday, August 20, 2015

Getting inked

Bryan and I went on a date this week that we won't soon forget. From the new and unusual experience, the pain involved, and the fact that the result from said date will be obviously with us for many, many years to come....

You see, we got tattoos.

Oh, don't get too excited. I know your mind is running away with visions of colorful artwork on a shoulder or around an ankle. No, this is very small. And purposeful. Bryan and I now sport matching tattoo wedding rings on our left hands.

A few months ago I randomly came across an article about wedding ring tattoos. It was an interesting idea and the pictures were kind of neat. The author made comments about the serious commitment and maybe even daring that must have gone into getting a tattoo like this...obviously having to do with the idea that most couples in this day and age wouldn't outlast a tattoo. You can take off a wedding ring after a divorce, but not so much a tattoo. I finished the article and filed it away in the back of my brain as random bits of minutiae.

But then a few weeks later I found Bryan's wedding ring on the bedside table. It continued to sit there for the next few days. I knew he took it off frequently for activities such as shooting and weight lifting, but I was worried that it might get accidentally knocked off the bedside table and lost. I mentioned it to him. Did he need a better place to keep his ring if he didn't wear it often? Bryan lamented the difficulty of taking off and putting back on the ring. It fit fine, he said....but was really hard and somewhat painful to get over his knuckle. I related. My problem, especially in the summer? My fingers swell in the heat. The past few months I've only been wearing one band (rather than the three that make up my wedding set) because of swelling. I told Bryan just in passing about the wedding ring tattoo article I had read a few weeks earlier. He expressed interest and asked me to email him the link. Later that day I got an email back from him with the words, "I could get really excited about this."

I'm guessing he probably thought that would be it, that I wouldn't ever consider a tattoo of any kind. Somehow though, this appealed to me. I emailed him back and said I would be interested in doing some research and having further discussion.

So we did various reading on our own and shared what we had learned with each other. We talked about different type of symbols or bands we would maybe be interested in having inked. But between Bryan's busy work schedule filled with deadlines and my surgery, the discussions were short and infrequent, even though interest remained high.

Tuesday was date night. We decided on sushi at Happy Sumo downtown Salt Lake City. And while we were downtown...checking out a few tattoo parlors to ask some questions. In our research we had read that some tattoo artist consider themselves exactly that, an artist....with the thought of a tiny little finger tattoo beneath them. Would something so small be worth their time? And if so, did they have experience in finger tattoos? Apparently it takes some expertise to work on such a small and awkward canvas.

The closet tattoo parlor to where we planned to have dinner was Lost Art Tattoo on State Street. I tell you what, it was completely bizarre to walk into the place. Never in my life before had I ever had the desire to visit a tattoo parlor. We walked into the lobby and Alex poked his head out of the back. We told him what we were there for. We asked him question after question. He answered our questions and gave us lots of experienced advice. See, not only had he inked many finger tattoos, he also had every finger on his own hands inked as well. He had experience with doing the tattoo, and also what they felt like and how they recovered as opposed to other areas of your body. (Fingers can be slightly more painful and take longer to fully heal.)

When we showed Alex a picture of the symbol we were considering and asked him how long it would take to do something like that, he said it would only take ten minutes...that he could do it right then and there. Bryan and I looked at each other. This had not been our original plan for the evening. And it was only the first parlor we had checked out. But Alex had been so wonderful in answering all of our questions and taking seriously our concerns...despite some of them likely being kind of silly. He clearly had experience. Should we just do it?

We decided YES!

Alex made a drawing of what we wanted and then made a template of it. He got everything ready to go while we were filling out papers and then called us to the back room. Pictures all over the walls of past jobs, flags on the ceiling from countries they have done tattoo work in. A very colorful place. Bryan went first. Alex told us that we were likely expecting something much worse in regards to pain than it would actually be...all the same I watched Bryan closely for flinching. (He didn't.) The whole process was rather fascinating. Clean up and re-set in between the two of us was rather extensive. I was impressed. Soon it was my turn. And yeah, the pain wasn't as bad as I expecting but it did hurt! Certain areas hurt worse than others. If I had to describe the pain I would say it felt like a being cut by a very small and precise knife, or sometimes even a burning sensation. (I'm proud to say I didn't flinch either.)

Bryan and I are delighted with the end result! We chose to ink infinity symbols on our ring fingers, as a reminder of forever. I will likely still wear my wedding rings over the tattoo frequently. I love my wedding bands. But this ink somehow feels to me like a renewal of vows, in a way. Bryan and I have had a lot of ups and downs over the past 22 years. But somehow despite difficulties at various points in our marriage, we've chosen to cling to each other even more fiercely...coming out on the other side of a trying time a little bruised and bloody perhaps, but still committed. This ring tattoo feels to me like just that, a wedding ring. And a reminder of the vows we have made even when we are not wearing our actual rings...boundless commitment. I have no desire to get other tattoos on any other part of my body. But to have matching infinity symbols permanently inked into our ring fingers...well, that just feels like I'm tying myself even further to my husband. We are in this for the long haul. For this life and beyond. We make the choice to love each other every day, even through the hard times. We can't just take off these new wedding rings.


annon668 said...

A friend of mine shared this post with me, and I hope none of my comments come across as rude or judgmental! At one time in my life, I too was considering a tattoo. I then found this -

a good read for me at that time. After reading it I still thought about getting one sometimes - then had a dream where I was walking up to the Savior. He pointed to my tattoo and said, "What's this?" I explained it was the name of my daughter, a symbol that I would always love her and be there for her. Christ then extended his hand to me, showed me the prints in his hands, and said "I got these because I love you, I will always be there for you, and I will always pay the price for your sins." I have since tried to be open about my experience, so again hopefully this doesn't come across as rude!

While getting a tattoo is a personal choice, and I completely respect that, I'm not sure that broadcasting it is necessarily wise. Others may be inclined to follow your example, which if you read the above article, is something the leaders of the church discourage.

Anyway your blog is so cute and your missionary is so gosh darn cute! Best of luck!

Lori said...

Interesting! I would never have guessed that you would be one to even consider a tattoo, much less get matching ones with Bryan! I love the sentiment though, and was surprised at how similar it is to my own reason for my tattoo. Having dealt with depression, self esteem and loss, to put that permanent reminder to myself that every day I get to choose to be happy. Some days that decision is harder than others, but it's still my choice.
Not sure how I feel about not being the only inked kid in our crew anymore. ;)