I guess I should start this off with the caveat that no, you don’t need to go to New York to get a tattoo. There are, I’m sure, perfectly good tattoo shops wherever you are. The story of how I ended up getting one in New York of all places, for me literally across the country, is one that I feel is at once unique and relatable. It was spontaneous yet planned, and up until it happened I was half-sure it wouldn’t because I’d wuss out. In the end, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done and a part of me wants to get a new tattoo whenever I vacation now. Like with all things of this nature, it wouldn’t have happened without my friends. They get you to do the things you might not be brave enough to do on your own.
Tattoos and Me
I’ve always been interested in getting a tattoo, since my days as a youngin’ in high school. It wasn’t a burning, I-need-to-do-this-the-second-I’m-18 sort of desire, more like “Oh eventually I would like to do the thing”. I couldn’t decide what I wanted or where I wanted it. More to the point, and what was one of the main contributors to holding me back was the absolute, resounding disapproval of my parents. It’s part of that immigrant attitude, you fellow children of immigrants will understand. Tattoos = less job prospects = delayed success. My cousins had gotten tattoos and while my parents never said anything negative, they would always look at my siblings and say you guys can NEVER do that. It was the one thing my dad would half-joke that he would disown us for.
So naturally, not knowing how serious they were I was never inclined to push it to find out. I just kept musing on the day I would get one, in no real rush but still knowing I wanted one.
As time kept creeping along, more and more of my friends started getting their own tattoos. I would just look on in envy, but still continue to lack the resolve to get one myself. I didn’t want to risk my parents’ disapproval, even as twenty-something earning their own money. I moved back home after college and if the only thing I had to do in return was not get a tattoo then that was just what I had to do. I lived vicariously through my friends and looked up potential designs for when the day finally came. I had come close to getting one as my undergrad studies were coming to an end, but I knew I’d have to move home and I wasn’t going to go through the trouble of trying to hide it the way some of my friends did when they visited home. For one thing, I shouldn’t have to hide anything, getting a tattoo is no one’s decision but my own. I’m the one living with it after all. Secondly, and probably most importantly, hiding it wouldn’t work out long term. I could’ve probably kept it up for a few months, or indefinitely depending on where I got it, but I also know that at some point I’d be bound to slip up. I’m just not made for long term stealth, it’s too much of a commitment (lol) and I’d rather just have the fight and let it work itself out.
Still, it’s not in my nature to enter into conflict (I’m one of those people who cries in anger when they fight with someone) so I decided to leave the tattoo to a later date.
So, the trip to New York wasn’t with the sole purpose of getting a tattoo. My friends and I were going to Book Con, so we decided to make a whole New York vacation out of it since it was our first time going. It also doubled as a belated graduation trip as one of my friends and I had gotten our Master’s a bit before. My other friend is always down to go on vacation and a fourth friend had recently moved out there, so it was a party. Or as party-like as a group of introverts can be, a bulk of our time was just going from restaurant to cafe to bookstore to eatery. We’re old people on the inside.
Anyway, before leaving I had jokingly suggested to one friend that we get BFFL tattoos (not literally, just matching ones) on our vacation. It wouldn’t be that hard to convince the third friend, and it wasn’t. I still didn’t think we’d actually do it. However when we mentioned it to the New York friend, she agreed so enthusiastically, and immediately began looking for a shop, that we were momentarily stunned, thinking “Oh I guess this really is happening”. We finished eating and started trekking to the shop still in a bit of disbelief. Unfortunately, they had no more time for walk-ins but we agreed to meet up the next day and get it done at their sister shop in Brooklyn.
Finally the day was upon me. The day I thought would never come. I was getting a tattoo.
It wasn’t as dramatic as all that. We got up, had brunch, went to Milk Bar for some cookies and ice cream, then made our way to Three Kings Tattoos. We walked in, and because what we had decided on was small and quick they were able to fit us in. I was still anxious about it (I made my friends go first) but I did it. It didn’t hurt, we got them just under our left wrists, and it was a great experience. It was the anticipation of the unknown more than anything that was getting to me. Immediately after we got back to our Air BnB I was thinking up what my next one would be.
Of course life and the recent shut downs got in the way of going in for the next one, but I hope to get one soon! I think it was best that I didn’t get it at home, it’s too easy to keep putting it off and make excuses as to why you can’t go. Being in New York lent a sense of fun and spontaneity that helped give me the push I needed. It was one of the best ideas I’ve ever had, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Do you have tattoos? What’s the story behind them? Let me know in the comments below!
Featured Image via Pinterest, https://www.pinterest.com/pin/819584832172327432/
I'm a writer based in California. I received my Bachelor's and Master's in Literature from San Francisco State University. I dream of one day writing books of my own and maybe even being part of a writer's room for a show! I love to talk about pop culture, books, and travel to anyone willing to listen. Some of my favorite topics in those categories are "Avatar the Last Airbender", "Gilmore Girls", the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, Mexico, and Paris. My favorite thing in the world though is my dog, he's just the cutest!