Always

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“But this is touching, Severus,” said Dumbledore seriously. “Have you grown to care for the boy, after all?”

“For him?” shouted Snape. Expecto Patronum!”

From the tip of his wand burst the silver doe: She landed on the office floors, bounded once across the office, and soared out of the window. Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears.

“After all this time?”

“Always,” said Snape.

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I got my very first tattoo on Friday.

Between the crazy My Little Pony hair and my new tattoo, it must seem like I’m entering my rebellious phase a little on the late side, doesn’t it? Truth be told, I do kinda feel like I’ve got some sort of emotional Benjamin Button thing going on here — when I was in college, you’d probably find me sitting at home, watching TV, reading, and learning how to knit (true story.) But now that I’m 26 and I’m supposed to be this adult (stifle your laughter, please), I’m finally doing all the things that I feel like should have happened back then.

Actually, I did very nearly got this tattoo when I was in college. I mustered all my courage, waltzed into a tattoo shop, and made an appointment. I even put down a deposit! But that didn’t stop me from chickening out. So, flash forward another five, six years, and here we are. I figured that the fact that I still desperately wanted this tattoo meant that I probably wouldn’t end up regretting it — at least not for a long, long time, haha.

And so, on Friday, I walked into Jinx Proof Tattoos in Georgetown with my blessedly patient friend Lara, and I took the plunge.

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I’m sure that any of you already sporting some ink probably think it’s absolutely ridiculous that I made such a big deal out of getting a tiny little word on my wrist, but you have to remember that I’m a crazy person, and my mental capacity for imagining worst-possible-case scenarios is truly something to behold.

Soooo, though I was wracked with nerves from imagining that the pain would be akin to having my skin slowly sliced open, I managed to hide my neuroses long enough to talk to the girl at the front about what I was looking for. I knew I wanted the word “Always” with the three stars from every page of the Harry Potter books worked in somehow.

I already had a font picked out, so my tattoo artist, Tim, simply drew up the word in that style with the stars bookending the “S” at the end, and when I saw it, I knew it was perfect. Simple, clean, subtle, whimsical, and, most importantly, meaningful.

Funnily enough, even though this was the exact tattoo I had planned on getting for years and years, when I finally made the decision to definitely get a tattoo (I decided before I went to Cabo), I started getting a little bit, er, grand, with my vision. I mean, really, it’s Pinterest’s fault for having so many awesome examples of killer Harry Potter tattoos out there. I mean, snitches, house crests, stags, does, quotes galore, even one absolutely bitchin’ scene from the Tale of the Three Brothers… oh man, so cool.

Ultimately, though, I’m definitely glad I stuck with my original choice. After all, if I ever end up getting another tattoo, that’s when I can go a little wilder, right? πŸ˜‰

Anyway, off I went, back to Tim’s station, where he cleaned my wrist, shaved my hair a smidge, and then applied the tattoo appliquΓ© so we could see exactly where it was going to go. After I signed off on its placement, he had me lay down on the table, wrist up, and went to work.

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Tim was awesome. He talked me through exactly what he was going to do at the beginning, giving me one test stroke to get acclimated to the feel of the needle. And, of course, since I had been imagining excruciating pain the entire time I was sitting out in the waiting room, it was like, nothing. Compared to what I had been fearing, the pain was so, so manageable. Obviously I’m not going to say that it didn’t hurt at all, but there were honestly only one or two spots where I actively reacted to the pain with an intake of breath or a facial wince.

I’d tried asking numerous friends with tattoos what it feels like, and I can now understand why it always seemed difficult for them to describe — because it IS difficult to describe! My friend Chrystalle likens it to that feeling when your skin touches the hot outside of a car, which I’d say is pretty accurate. It feels somewhere between a burn (but not like, a super painful, run your finger under the water, it’s gonna blister up burn) and a scratch.

Tim worked in small strokes so even when it did hurt, I always got a second to wind down from the pain, and it was honestly over in a flash. I mean, I know my tattoo is very small, but it seriously flew by. Before I knew it, he was cleaning it off, rubbing a little ointment on it, and indulging me by taking a photo on my phone of it before bandaging it up!

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I’ve been taking my aftercare pretty seriously, since I’m paranoid that I’m still somehow going to mess it up and ruin it forever, but as of right now, it seems to be healing up really nicely and I couldn’t be happier.

So there you have it, my very first tattoo story. I’m sure there are some of you out there who think it’s absolutely crazy for me to get something related to Harry Potter tattooed on my body for all eternity (cough*mom*cough), and that’s fine. Not everyone grew up with Harry Potter, year for year, the way that I did. Not everyone had their childhood shaped by the stories and characters in these books. Not everyone learned lessons about right and wrong, friendship, heroism, justice, and sacrifice from them.

But I did.

And so the word “Always” is not just a tribute to Snape’s undying love for Lily Potter, to his sacrifice to keep her legacy and progeny alive, but is also the embodiment of the significance that Harry Potter has, and will always have, in my own life.

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Plus, if nothing else, it’s sure to get me some serious street cred when I return to Harry Potter World and hit up Diagon Alley in the fall, eh?

18 Comments

  1. Caitlynsays:

    I love it!! I also totally agree that if you’ve wanted the same tattoo for that long, you probably won’t regret it. I’ve wanted one for a few years and I think it might be time I take the plunge!

  2. Gorgeous! I put temporary pink hair dye in for a Katy perry concert on friday, just some highlights and tips, but I love it and am seriously considering doing a real dye! I’m pretty sure your brave hair color helps with the inspiration. I always agree in college I wouldn’t dream of doing pink hair, but right now I can’t think of a good reason to NOT do it.

  3. I love the tattoo!! I just got my first tattoo this summer as well, and in the same location. I’ve had it for about 6 weeks (and have thought about it for 9 years, so it definitely wasn’t a quick decision), and am happier with it each day that passes.

  4. Lo the Phoenix (@LoPhoenix)says:

    See not so bad, huh?! And now…you’ll want more and more. Not saying you’ll get them all, but you’ll want them. I didn’t believe my friends when they said tattoos were addicting, but they are. Yours is great. And a great placement too, that’s where my next one is going, I just haven’t decided exactly what I want out of some possibilities yet. Anyway, welcome to the club. :O)

  5. Jennsays:

    First off, LOVE the tat!! I didn’t start reading Harry Potter until about…well, ok, my then-fiance made me watch the movies. I was hooked by Azkaban, and solidly in for the rest by Order of the Phoenix. I finished the books within a few months last year, and recently started them up again. I wish I had been able to grow up with them, but at least I am into it now! I’ve contemplated a butterfly tat, maybe with some musical aspects as part of it. (Of course, now I’m thinking a second Harry Potter one would be cool, too!) Thing is, I wanna do a tattoo AFTER I lose weight, which brings me to my second point.
    I found your blog about a year ago, and I’ve been loving reading it! I’m sorta “in-between” myself – I have NEVER been this heavy, and it is causing self-esteem issues, big time. I know I need to lose weight for health reasons, but also to start getting my confidence back. Reading your blog has been really helpful lately, because I see your pictures and you are so beautiful and honest about your struggles, and I keep telling myself my worth is not determined by what a scale says. So, I guess my rather verbose comment is more of a Thank you for being you, funny, smart, open, and totally into geekdoms like me! It’s nice knowing there are others that feel like I do at times πŸ™‚

    • Thank you so much, Jenn! I’d be lying if I said the placement of my tattoo wasn’t influenced by me trying to think of a body part that wouldn’t change too much if I were to lose or gain weight again, but I’m also so, so happy I didn’t put it off any longer. I’m sure I never would have done it if I kept waiting for that perfect time, perfect look, y’know?

      But yes, you are most definitely not the only person in this struggle — we in-betweeners gotta stick it out together! πŸ™‚

  6. Karensays:

    I love that! I went to JinxProof waaaaaaaaay back in 1997 for my first tattoo and I am happy to see they are still around! I don’t remember anything from that day aside from being utterly terrified of the entire process and then shocked that it was over. And like others have said, start planning your next one, because one is rarely enough.

    Congrats!

  7. Larasays:

    I’m so happy for you! and you know, my sister tattoo is on the same spot, maybe a bit closer to my hand, and dang, I thought it hurt! but I do remember my first tat, and having built up the pain so much in my head, that it really didn’t hurt as much as I expected! congrats!

  8. Love it! The three stars (and perhaps a wand) with the words “All was well” have been on my tattoo “To-Do” list forever!

  9. It’s beautiful! I love it. Literary tattoos are quite possibly my favorite tattoos because it holds significant meaning to you, but you can also connect with other people who share the same passion or connection to your literature of choice. My tattoo is a quote from Jacqueline Carey’s “Kushiel” trilogy, and it says “Love as thou wilt.” People who have read the books recognize it immediately, and people who haven’t just think it’s a nice sentiment πŸ˜€

  10. I’ve actually been considering getting the Deathly Hallows symbol tattooed on me somewhere for quite some time! HP 4 life, yo.

  11. I absolutely love it. And the meaning of it into your own life is perfect. I am itching for another (I have 2 already) and something simple is what I’m definitely look to do! Congrats!

  12. Yay – tattoos are the best! Walking around with wrist bandages from a wrist tattoo can be a little awkward though – I got both of mine done at the same time a year ago and I got some funny looks. You are right, it is really difficult to describe – and I find the sunburn type feeling afterwards and the meticulous care to be worse than the initial pain!

  13. My sister bought me my first (and only) tattoo for my 18th birthday. I was so anxious all day, and when it came time for my appointment, I invited my 16-year-old cousin, my sister, and her best friend to keep me calm (my own best friend was trying to talk me out of it). I knew I wouldn’t regret it, but I was really scared about the pain.
    They kept me waiting for a LONG time (about three hours past my appointment), so by the time they called me, I just wanted it to be over!
    I also took aftercare really seriously, because infections squick me out.
    Your tattoo is super cute, and it really fits the new hair!

  14. Love your tattoo! From one Harry Potter fan to another (I mean, I went to the Harry Potter studio outside London during my honeymoon, for goodness sake!), I totally think this is the PERFECT tattoo to choose. I also love that Alan Rickman apparently riffed off that scene when he said he’d still be reading Harry Potter again when he’s 80. “Always.” Love it!

  15. Love this! I have a small wrist tattoo, a red star with the time “10:47” next to it, that I got… eight years ago? Nine? Damn. By now, it’s blended together & looks like I got it in prison & I hate it. TAKE CARE OF YOUR TATTOOS & DO NOT BE ME.

    Sorry for such a downer comment. I am bitter & jealous of your crisp & lovely new ink. It looks great! Annnnd I want more.

  16. Hey Gretchen,
    Super cute tattoo. I love tattoos but I don’t have a single on my body because I think I can’t bear that pain but now you’re my inspiration πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing your experience and encouraging me!!

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