There is something about starting school that makes you feel like a seventh grader no matter how old you are, and it has been a damn long time since I was a seventh grader. But, I still worried about being late and what to wear and having nobody talk to me because I'm old enough to be everybody's grandmother. At least I didn't have to memorize a locker combination.
The day started out with a frosty windshield and not enough coffee, but only about twelve miles of back roads and little traffic was a bonus. The big purple 1301 sign made the Tattoo Learning Center easy to spot and it had lots of parking. In fact, I was the first one there except for Jeff, a laid back guy who plays the rugged biker receptionist and jack-of-all-trades.
Lisa, in charge of all things tattoo and business, collected kids at the house in her big yellow truck: John, Michael, Sandy, Mia and Maria. We have a Michigan, Virginia, Ohio, Yonkers and a Joisey. And me. Nobody looked at me strangely. I was dressed okay in black and jeans. (Black is always reliable.) We sat in our assigned cubicles, did our paperwork, and received our big white binders full of info. I am sitting between Mia and Michael. Mia is beautiful, the other older student (in her late 40's, I'm guessing, because she has a 25-year-old son). Michael on the other hand is a ripe old nineteen and has already tattooed his own arms very successfully without instruction. John and Sandy are in their twenties, John a solid-looking marketing man who seems to have done lots of research on tattooing. Sandy is a tall, thin new daddy with a baby named Samantha in New Jersey and a head full of cornrows. Maria, who has her hair cropped like my Amy's, at nineteen has already run her own coffeeshop for three years. Maria and Sandy and Michael are very quiet, but they all have beautiful smiles.
This leaves me to be the talkative one, which is okay because I already know and love Lisa and don't mind asking questions, of which I will have many. The pattern of the day is set up for nine o'clock arrival, screwing around until 9:30, then morning instruction (all day on Monday) and then lunch and real tattooing until 5 or, as it turns out, whenever we get done. The first two days TLC buys lunch at Wendy's, then we are on our own, as we won't all have the same schedule, depending on how the tattooing goes.
Monday was pretty much of a brain cram. Oh, yeah, we all got TLC t-shirts. Black, of course.