I got my first tattoo when I was 14. Okay, I know that is really young. Does it make you feel better knowing I was a week shy of 15? What about that my mom was with me and signed all the paperwork? Still no? Okay. Here’s the story. Here is the one tattoo that has started me on a lifetime of ink. My dad passed away August 19, 2008. His 40th birthday was August 22, and my 15th birthday was August 27. My mom let me get a tattoo in remembrance of my dad. I had no idea what to get, I knew it had to be small and something that conveyed my message. So I went with “Daddy” in script on my neck with his birth date to death date under it. Simple, yet meaningful. It was a beautiful way to honor him and forever have his presence with me. It’ll be 6 years without him this August- 6 very long years. And though the dates have faded and are sort of unreadable, this tattoo will always have a very special spot in my heart.
Fast forward about a year and I was desperately itching for a new tattoo. Bad. So I did the one thing that I told myself I’d never do- and regret to this day. I got a tattoo in somebody’s house. I tried to talk it up to myself to make me feel less bad about it. He had just lost his shop in town and still had all his equipment and everything. Heck, the chair was even in his living room! It couldn’t be that bad, right? Wrong! His children kept running around distracting him and making me feel nervous. It didn’t feel like my first tattoo- it didn’t hurt, but it didn’t feel right. Finally, when I saw the finished product, I was met with a tattoo I had to pretend to be happy about. It wasn’t bad at first glance. But the lines were scratchy, the feathers ran together, and the color was terrible. I absolutely hate this tattoo, and I have wanted to cover it for years. I don’t want this to be seen at my wedding, but financially, I can’t afford to fix it. It was a disaster and has left with me basically just a faded outline on my shoulder than nobody can read. This is the only picture I have of it. I hate it that much. And for the record, it says “Hope is the thing with feathers”.
I can’t remember what I got next, so I’m going to do these two in one paragraph. I think I got the Banksy piece next. I really wanted a foot tattoo, so I searched the internet for something. This was before I came up with my own tattoo ideas or got original stuff. Then I saw the “Girl with a red balloon” Banksy piece and it was decided, I was going to get it. My aunt took me to a tattoo shop to get it done, pretending to be my mom. It was quick, and it didn’t hurt as bad as people said tattoos on your feet did. I guess everyone interprets the pain differently. While the Banksy piece had no significance when I got it, it is actually one of the reasons Brandon started talking to me. He was/is very in to street art, and was super impressed I had it tattooed on me. Little did he know, I had no idea really what it was!
Next I got my wonderful zombie, who I call Bird. I can’t take a picture of him for the life of me, so I’m going to use an old one. And my legs are hairy (hello, it’s winter… i’m not shaving!) so yeah, excuses. On spring break the winter after I got my Banksy piece I convinced my mother to let me get another tattoo- whatever I wanted. When I said a zombie, she told me it had to be palm size. The palm size Bird debate is still a hot topic in my house, years later. I took that as being my whole hand, my mom took it as her Hobbit sized palm. Either way, she was extremely mad when I showed up with a massive zombie covering my entire leg. Honestly, I’m a little upset now that he takes up so much room on my leg, and I’m disappointed with the design. I wanted something original, and when I showed up, my artist forgot I had an appointment. He picked something off Google and went for it. I am terrible at being assertive, so I let him do it. Regardless, I still love my Bird, and no, he doesn’t scare children.
I was spending the weekend with my family at Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, Ohio (where the tattoo shop where I got my Banksy and zombie tattoo at is located) and decided I wanted another tattoo. I begged my mom to take me, and she did. My best friend drove the 45 minutes up to Sandusky to hang out with me while I got it done. The second most embarrassing thing on me are these two bad boys. 1) They’re in Helvetica. I was like, it’s such a hip font! No, it’s a font you’ll be ashamed to have tattooed on you. 2) Of Mice and Men Lyrics? 3) Lights lyrics… which are okay. I got “I hope you smile when you look down at me” for my dad and “When you’re gone will I lose control?” for my mom. I really want to add something around it, but it’s so big and bold and plain I don’t know what I’d do.
I didn’t get another tattoo until my freshman year of college. I graduated when I was 17, leaving me a few months of torture not being able to do the stuff my friends were doing, like going to clubs… or whatever it is 18 year old kids do. Really, all I wanted as to be able to get a tattoo on my own. So I did. I really was getting into American traditional tattoos, so I decided I wanted a pocket-watch. This was the first tattoo I ever got done by my go to guy, Brenton Potter at The Tattoo Factory in Bucyrus, Ohio. Seriously if you’re in the area, give him a call. Look him up. Do something. Just go to him and get a tattoo because he is amazing at what he does and he’s hilarious. Here is a link to his Instagram to make it easier for you.
The next thing I got, I think, would be my favorite tattoo on my body. I love my Native American heritage. I love Native America art. So I decided I wanted a half leg sleeve of Native American styled traditional tattoos. The first guy up on my list is this gnarly skull dude. He hurt way more than my pocket-watch did. Unforunately, I had a hard time not picking at the yellow in his headdress. Other than that his color has held up amazingly well. A few months later Brenton had this flash piece up on his Instagram he wanted to do, so I was like, yeah let’s do it! I didn’t have the money at the time, but being a young college student, I went for it anyway. I’d sacrifice gas in my car for a tattoo. I would do that now still… but then I’d lose my job and really not be able to get tattoos. Or pay my bills. So for now, I’m going to responsibly save for tattoos instead of throwing my money everywhere. Anyhow, this little guy was quick and easy.
I decided a long time ago to stay away from quotes and lyrics after having some tattooed on me that I really don’t connect with anymore. But when I read “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green, I was really obsessed. Like, I wrote him an email obsessed. I didn’t go to class because I was too busy having a mental breakdown crying over the entire thing. It’s an event reading that book, seriously. Anyhow, I wanted something around the balloon on my foot and I thought, what better than a quote from this book! That is how “My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations” got to be on my foot. Brenton did it real quick after doing the back of my thigh. Also, this picture shows my Banksy piece better and features (RIP) these adorable shoes I got from DEB. That thigh piece I mentioned was incredibly painful and awkward for me to get. I really don’t like the back of my legs because of that weird area behind the knee. And I’m TERRIBLE at shaving the back of my legs, sorry if that’s TMI. But I am. So I was incredibly nervous about it. I did the best I could and hoped for the best, knowing I missed stuff. Brenton is a gentleman and shaved what I missed, but in the picture he posted on Instagram, someone made a really rude and mean comment that has stuck with me to this day about how I was hairy. Even now, when I’m like, who cares! It’s just hair! I’m still upset about it. Anyhow. This was really painful. After the outline, I was dying. But I love how it turned out and I wish I could see it more often. Sometimes I forget it is there. Ha!
Last but certainly not least are the engagement tattoos Brandon and I got, also done by Brenton. We really wanted something that showcased us and were somehow connected. My love of owls trumped everything and we got these cutie patooties. They represent us perfectly, and I couldn’t be happier. Mine is just girly enough and his is just Brandon enough. People love the story behind it, especially the residents at my nursing home! My mom was so mad at me when I got this because it is on my arm. She always told me to make my tattoos not visible or else I wouldn’t get a good job. You can totally cover an arm tattoo, so I stand by my position that she should take a chill pill.
Neither Brandon nor I have gotten a tattoo since these this past July. We are totally itching for new ones. Bad. But we have more important things to worry about, like bills, work, and the wedding. We have the rest of our lives and the rest of our bodies for tattoos! I definitely want to finish up my Native American leg stuff, and I plan on getting a Bioshock related tattoo. I also want to get something on my knees, but I’m not quite sure what yet. I plan on having my whole legs done, and my back, if I figure out a nice back piece. I’m still undecided on my arms. I definitely don’t want to go past the elbow, but we will see! Brandon, on the other hand, wants to be completely covered. No neck, hands, or face. Everything else is fair game to him!