Tattoo Removal

By Kyra-lin Hom

Ow. Ow. No seriously, ow. Forgive me if I seem a bit off my game this week. Earlier today I had my first tattoo removal session. Then I thought, “well I had to take the day off work anyway so...” and rescheduled my upcoming laser hair removal appointment for an hour after that. Apparently, I decided today was the day to point burning lasers at my skin. You know, why not, right? So I must apologize for any wooziness of mine that may bleed through into my writing here.

My tattoo story starts about three years ago with a road trip, one of my best friends and me. This would be the summer before our senior year of college. I had always wanted a tattoo. I love the idea of the body as art. Still do, actually. So there we were in Santa Rosa, CA. So far that day we had worked (*cough* played *cough*) at Baskin Robbins – her relatives owned one in the area – visited a swarthy psychic for our first readings, and had plans later to go see How to Train Your Dragon. But we did have the late afternoon free. Of course that's when, in the spirit of all road trip adventures, my friend decided it was the day to get tattoos. Enter google and a little tattoo parlor whose name had something to do with a monkey. By the way, I should mention she is deathly afraid of needles.

Three hours later we had tattoos. The experience feels like being stabbed over and over again with an ultra-fine hypodermic needle on speed. Her tattoo was (still is) an adorable, unobtrusive little paw print with wings behind her ear. Mine was a much bolder tribal fox racing around my right wrist. I never quite do things by half. We loved them.

Cut three years ahead. I've traded in my LA fire-engine-red hair for my natural brunette – something my friends and family hadn't seen for years – and my career plans are taking a sharp 90 degree angle turn. For those who are wondering and have asked about the change in hair color, I made the decision for practical reasons but not necessarily the ones you might think. See, that bright of a red never really sets permanently. My room mates and I used to joke that our shower looked like a Care Bear murder scene. Every time I sweat or was caught in the rain, I ran the risk of staining my face and clothes. Not exactly a practical do for living under Seattle skies. The red really had to go. I miss the pop but not the upkeep, which could be a near weekly job if I was really concerned.

I never thought having a tattoo that low on my wrist would be a problem. Regulations don't tend to be an issue for the professionally artistic ilk. But as I mentioned, my career plans have recently veered off in a drastic new direction, shooting me towards a world of nothing but rules and policies. It turns out that my super cool fox sits just low enough to show under a suit sleeve. Wonderful. That and... let's just say I wish I'd shopped around for artists a bit more before taking the plunge.

Turns out, tattoo removal lasers feel like being stabbed with a large hypodermic needle over and over again. Luckily the experience is very quick. It only took five – maybe 10 – minutes of watching my skin insta-blister beneath this wicked Matrix-looking tool. I don't know if I could have done that for the hour and a half getting the tattoo took. According to the technician I did really well by not needing to take any breaks. Good for me. One session down. At least three to go. Ow.

Don't get me wrong, I still love tattoos. I have two others (one large-ish and one small) and plan on getting more in the future. Very little anti-tattoo rhetoric annoys me more than being told to “think about what it will look like when I'm 60.” I'm not 60 now, and I refuse to live as if I am. That said, I have definitely learned my (expensive) lesson.

Being impulsive is a part of being young. It's not the getting of the tattoo I regret. Not at all. That was a really fun experience I was able to share with one of my best friends. What I do regret was not being a little more practical in my indulgence like she was. Just something to think about.

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