As I sat in the chair and the tattoo artist prepped my ankle, I tried to chat a little to ease my thoughts. Every response resulted in me laughing nervously like someone on a game show, trying to play along but utterly paralyzed by the fear of the moment, the cameras, the high stakes. He peeled the backing off the stencil, and I saw it there: the idea of how my ankle would look after that needle got jabbing; the idea of me, mom-lady, as a person with a tattoo. The tattoo artist and I made small talk about how he started as an apprentice and worked his way up to a senior artist with his own station at the shop. He mentioned he just got married and wanted a kid right away, and suddenly, there we were, discussing my rambunctious 5-year-old daughter in this den of roses and skeletons and torso-sized pet portraits. He peeled the backing off the stencil, and I saw it there: the idea of how my ankle would look after that needle got jabbing; the idea of me, mom-lady, as a person with a tattoo. Once the tattoo machine was turned on and I could hear the buzzing sound, I knew there was no going back. I explained to the tattoo artist that I had waited a long time to get this tattoo. I recall his response being a friendly, "mmm," like he heard that all day. So much fuss, I thought, about a small piece of art.
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