I finally did it. After eight years of planning and talking about getting one, I finally got my swallow tattoo. Back when Chris and I were dating, I had him sketch up a couple ideas for a tattoo. I knew I wanted a swallow or sparrow but just couldn’t bring myself to get it done. It sounds weird to say since I’ve been in a relationship for almost 11 years now, but I have an issue with commitment. When it comes to making a decision that there’s no coming back from, my fight or flight kicks in and I have the urge to run the other way. I experienced when Chris and I moved in together four years ago and then again when we adopted our beloved dog. Funny enough, I didn’t feel that way about getting engaged or married but I have mentioned it before, buying a house was pretty terrifying.
Now that Chris already has a tattoo, the fear has slowly subsided and I finally felt ready to make the plunge. Chris found a really awesome tattoo artist so I knew I was in good hands. If you are looking for a well done, unique tattoo in the traditional American style, Ryan Campbell at Memento is superb. We met with him briefly after some emailing back and forth to give him our ideas (did I mention we got tattoos together?). We booked our appointment and two weeks later, voila!
The hardest part was choosing a location and size. I always thought my first tattoo would be somewhere on my torso (rib cage, shoulder, etc.) but I started to prefer arm tattoos because I think they are a bit less intense while still remaining hidden if I need it to be. Once I made the decision to actually get a tattoo, I started thinking of all the other ones I want and where so I wanted to make sure I didn’t mess up my blueprint by getting this first one in the wrong place (Pinterest board of ideas). Another difficult decision, black and white or color? Chris’s first tattoo is absolutely beautiful and bright but I didn’t think that was me so I decided on black with a little shading here and there.
Ryan really put me at ease and it really felt like a custom, personal exchange because he drew up a design, had you check it out, then put the stencil on and let you take a look at everything in a mirror. I had started to freak a bit the days leading up to getting the tattoo, but the moment I looked in the mirror with the template on my arm, I knew it was perfect. The size, shading, positioning, everything is exactly what I was hoping for. Chris and I were also able to sit in together, which is nice, and for those who are wondering how long it took, together with cleanup in between, we were there for about two hours.
Did it hurt? Yes. Was it the worst pain I’ve ever experienced? No. I would be lying if I said I woke up the next day with zero discomfort. The next day the area surrounding my tattoo was bright red and felt like a bad sunburn, but by the end of the day, it felt so much better. It still hurts just the tiniest amount to the touch but I don’t regret it at all. No pain, no gain, am I right?
Why a swallow? There a few different reasons but ultimately, I just really like it. According to what I’ve read online, a swallow tattoo was popular with sailors to represent their experience (they received a swallow tattoo based on how many nautical miles they had sailed). It also was supposed to carry their souls home if they were lost at sea. It’s also said that swallows mate for life so it can represent loyalty to family and SOs (feel free to read up more about swallow tattoos here). Chris and I got matching tattoos together, so this meaning definitely resonates with me. What it really comes down to, though, in my opinion, is how much you love it. If you love something enough to get it permanently cut into your skin with a needle, that’s enough reason to get it.