I got my first tattoo at seventeen. My parents signed for it as my birthday present. It's the Southern Cross constellation from the Australian flag, on top of my foot. Explanation? I'm Australian. I consider it home.
The top of my foot was a food place - sure everyone said it hurts the most there (they were wrong) but it's the easiest to cover for the day I enter the real world and people begin to judge my work ethic and ability to perform based on ink.
When I turned eighteen I got my second tattoo all by myself. My grandma wrote "hallelujah" for me and I had it tattooed on my wrist, sideways. To date it's still the most beautiful, the most special. It's my favourite word because it means God be praised or an expression of worship or rejoicing. And in light of everything God had brought me through that year, there was nothing else I could do in response except praise, worship, and rejoice.
The wrist isn't so hard to hide - the ink is so dainty and light most people don't even realise it's there. The large text on my ribs is covered 300 days out of the year, only making appearances in hot yoga or during the summer at the pool. The matching one with my mum that is on my ankle hides under jeans or shoes most of the time. All so tiny, all so significant to me.
So at twenty one, in Vegas with my best friends since high school, it seemed only appropriate to get tattoos remembering where we came from. Each of us chose different ranges of the Rocky Mountains: the Million Dollar View, Bierstadt Mountain, and for me the Front Range. And this one won't be so easy to hide (nor will any that follow, sorry to disappoint mum and hiring managers).
Tattoos are wounds - second degree burns. They bleed when you're getting them, they are swollen and red for days after, and they sting when you accidentally hit them the wrong way. But it's this process that is so intriguing to me. The healing process where my skin reacts so violently to something so beautiful. I'm adding something permanent and it's a fight to make it stick.
After a few years the ink fades and the vibrancy decreases significantly. Eventually you forget how much it hurt to get the tattoo and how much it hurt to heal. It's the forgetting that makes it possible to keep going back I think.
What beautiful metaphor for life friends. It might be completely obvious but I'll break it down anyways...
When I think about everything going on in the world I want to hide in my room and never leave, as if I am somehow safer there. I want to cry and kick and scream out of fear and anger. I want to lock up all the bad guys so they can't hurt us anymore. But this fear is only stopping me. It's not changing anyone else. Fear has an incredible ability to remove us from Gods plan for our lives, and we were NOT given a spirit of fear. And yet not fearing doesn't mean we're invincible either - painful things still happen on a large and small scale. But after we go through the pain, we eventually heal. It can be so ugly in the process but once we're done it's so beautiful and eventually we forget the pain and only see how far we've come.
That's why I get tattoos. I want to remember where I come from.