Inked in a Blink

There were less than 24 hours between my thoughts “I might get a tattoo soon” and “Okay, gotta leave in 5 minutes.” My plans for last weekend consisted of doing homework and hanging around Winona with my mom…until I called the tattoo shop. I had a definite idea of what I wanted, which always makes the decision to get it more likely, and the guy on the phone said there was an artist available right now. I didn’t think twice. I said I’d be there in 15 minutes.


This is my second tattoo.

I’ve loved this saying—speak life—ever since my brother got the same tattoo about a year or two before me. I made the decision. I thought, “This is something I could live with for the rest of my life” from the saying, to the font, and the place. It’s all perfectly permanent.


I’d love to go on about why I chose this tattoo (and you can read that here), but I’d like to share my personal experience instead.


I walked into Red Wing Tattoo on a Friday afternoon feeling a little sweaty from the weather. Okay, a lot sweaty because I just made a permanent and (slightly) painful decision! The shop is small, but it fits in with Winona’s town-like vibe. The worker who greeted me was covered in ink and piercings, which is something I admire strongly. Why? I’m all for that self-expression, girl. He was so gentle when asking me for personal information and what tattoo I wanted; this was a vibe I didn’t quite expect. The shop didn’t play heavy metal or screamo music; instead, 80’s pop sounded from overhead and I couldn’t help but sing along.


My tattoo artist had hair red as Hot Tamales, but she definitely wasn’t a hot-head! She welcomed me back and asked about my weekend plans. I expected she would, because that’s what most normal employees who know decent customer service would have done. In turn, I asked what her plans were, assuming she’d say she’ll just be working. I forgot what she said, in all honesty. What I didn’t expect, though, was for her to share so much of her personal life with me.  


She started off with saying she just surprised her mom with tickets to Disney World. A tattoo artist going to Disney World!? I guess I shouldn’t be stereotyping that all tattoo artists are into dark and grungy things, because Disney World is anything but. She told me she’s been multiple times. I kept asking questions and she kept answering, sometimes picking up the needle to look at me with her response. She started to tell me more personal things about herself, like that her mom had just beaten cancer. I was stunned that this wonderful woman who I had met barely ten minutes ago was sharing a family struggle with me as a customer.


They always say that once you get one, you want more. For me, I want more tattoos just to talk to Chel C again. I feel humbled knowing I’ll catch up with her someday. Or maybe we’ll have this strange bond, like a hairdresser with her client. This tattoo, though, is just the beginning.