Anyone who knows me knows that I like tattoos. Currently, I have one on each foot, and one on the inside of my left forearm, and I have two more planned (although not yet financed). I know tattoos can be a little bit controversial, but I think they are a form of art and expression. If something means enough to you that you’re not going to get sick of it, that you’re okay with it potentially changing as you age and your skin changes, then I see no reason to not get a tattoo. But, to me, they have to have some meaning.
Because I’m talking about meaning, here is what my current and planned future tattoos mean to me:
- Infinity sign on the inside of my left heel. This was my first tattoo, which I got right after I turned 19 with my then roommate. It was a combination of things – she thought I was a wimp who wouldn’t go through with it, mostly.[i] That sounds like a terrible reason, but I love this tattoo. The infinity symbol, the neverending flow – I love that. Every time I look at that tattoo, I love it. I can’t picture myself ever not liking the symbol.
- Phrase on my inner left forearm, Bho dhorchadas gu solus, “From darkness to light” in Scottish Gaelic. I had had a rough year, and this was my way of showing that I came out the other side. After spending a semester in northern Scotland (where they do still speak some Gaelic), I realized that my relationship wasn’t strong enough to last. We were okay when we were together, but after my experience abroad, we didn’t have much to talk about anymore. So we broke up, and he started dating someone right away, and I was caught in this middle place where I felt like I couldn’t let him go even though someone else was offering to me what I had never gotten out of a relationship. It was complicated, and we went to a small school. My ex’s new girlfriend had a lot of things to say about me, and she would read my blog, then block me on Facebook, then unblock me, then email me wanting to meet up, then… Oh, gosh, I was such a wreck that year. But I got through it. I graduated from that small college. I went out into the world. And I came out so much stronger on the other side.
- Anchor and heart on the inside of my right heel. The anchor was the symbol of that small college that will always hold a special place in my heart. And my sister liked it so much that she got a matching one on her rib cage. So now it has two meanings – a reminder of the place where I got my incomparable undergraduate education, and my eternal connection with my sister.
- Arrow on the pinky side of my right wrist. Demi Lovato and Juan Pablo both have tattoos here, and I absolutely love the placement. I mentioned in the post about Kacey Musgraves’ song “Follow Your Arrow” that I found an arrow design that I liked, but wasn’t sure where I wanted to put it. I figured it out. I want it to point to my writing hand, so that I can truly follow my arrow to a career that will make me feel both fulfilled and happy.
- Mountain peaks on right shoulder blade. This one is a long time in the making. You now know how much I love mountains. I feel like my soul belongs at a higher altitude. But the love of my life is very rooted here, and after a lot of conversations with him and a lot of thinking about what is most important to me, I have decided to keep the mountains with me all the time, even if I can’t live there. I think I’ll always feel like I belong in a place with snow-covered peaks and ski villages, but I will be okay. Here, I have H. I have a life that I love. I have some perspective now, and I love him more than I love myself.[ii]
I can’t imagine that those will be my only five tattoos in my life. I eventually want to coordinate my children’s names into something. I might want my wedding date put somewhere, at that point in my life. Life changes, and as long as you’re happy with the end result of the tattoos, then I see no harm. I have an artist’s heart. I understand the allure to painting your skin. I like simplicity, though. Everything that I want is minimalistic. I think that is just a quality in me – flashy isn’t really my thing, after all.
Do any of you have tattoos? I love hearing what they mean to people.