Write about your tattoos and what they mean, if anything.
I’ll start at my feet and go up.
On my left foot is a tribal tattoo of a hummingbird. It’s a memorial piece for my good friend from high school who died unexpectedly ten years ago. It’s small but it makes me think of her every time I look at it.
On the inside of my right ankle is a Tolkien tattoo - it’s hard to describe, it’s pretty big (6-7 inches tall?). The top part is a compass with his initial symbol in it, and the bottom half says, “Not all those who wander are lost” in a kind of old-school tattoo font inside a ribbon. This piece is lovely, I especially love the shades of blue the artist used in some places. But it’s basically a cover-up - I had a really awful skull tattoo I got in college, and when I tried to have it removed via laser in my late 20s part of it just would not fade and I was sick of looking at it, so I got this beautiful coverup instead.
On my left hip is a small tribal shamrock. This is for my husband. I’ll never get his name (I think tattoos of names are bad luck for relationships, as are matching tattoos) but it will always make me think of him.
On my lower back is my “tramp stamp” - a tribal butterfly in the middle, which I got after a bad breakup in my mid-20s, and then later I added some full-color flowers around it. I think they are pansies? Can’t remember, and I don’t look at it too much. The color in those flowers was the most painful part of any tattoo I’ve ever gotten - I think the artist hit a nerve or something because I swear I felt it all the way down my leg.
On my upper back, about ten years ago I got two tribal turtles with the Cantonese symbols for “boy” and “girl” (or “son” and “daughter”, depending who you ask). These are for my kids. I specifically chose the Cantonese symbols because I traveled to Canton, China, when I was 17 and have always had more of an affinity for Chinese culture than Japanese. However the symbols are easily mistaken for kanji, and I actually got into an argument online a few years ago with a friend who used to live in Japan who tried to argue with me about what my tattoos meant. My sister in law is Korean and apparently that’s similar too because she piped up in my defense, thankfully because I was getting really frustrated with this person implying that I didn’t do my research. ANYHOW.
About three years ago, I had an artist draw me a gorgeous tribal octopus. She represents me, and she’s also on my back, holding the turtles in her tentacles. This was while we were living in Arizona. The artist did an amazing job, but it’s a big piece - I was on the table about four hours, and was just about at the limit of how much pain I could handle when he finished the black outlines. I had intended to go back a few months later and have him add color, but I fell in love with the way it looked in black so I’ve never done that.
On my left arm, just above the wrist, are the words “be at peace.” This is just a reminder to me to try to remain calm and not be overcome by anxiety. Originally I got it when I was fairly devout, and it’s a line from a poem by St. Francis de Sales - but even now that I’ve moved almost entirely away from religion, the sentiment speaks to me.
On the inside of my right wrist is a triskele. This is the Celtic symbol of womanhood, representing the three phases of a woman’s life (as maiden, mother, and crone). It reminds me that even though I’m not young anymore, I’m not old yet. Someday when I’m older, I hope it will remind me of how much I have lived and enjoyed throughout the years.
That’s it for now, but I’m never really done. I already have plans for a piece that will go on my thigh, and I’ve contemplated making the Tolkien piece bigger and more ornate.
What can I say? I love me some ink!