From a very young age I’ve always wanted to get tattooed. From putting on temporary tattoos, to drawing on myself, it’s always been something I’ve connected with. One of my long lost dreams is to be a tattoo artist. I used to draw every day in my sketchbook and hoped to get an apprenticeship. But life had other plans for me and it’s brought me down a crazy path marked by breadcrumbs of ink.
I got my first tattoo when I was 16. Like most others it was at a “friends” house, and it was cheap. It’s my own drawing of a butterfly on my ankle. It reminds me all the time of the golden tattoo rule. Good tattoos aren’t done in a kitchen! Ha! But I still love it and I’ll never get it covered up. I wanted a butterfly to represent metamorphosis in life.
It took me a while to realize what a good tattoo was, and the second one I got has long been covered up. It was an ambiagram that said “Earth, Air, Fire, Water”. Although I loved the tattoo, the artwork was not good and it became illegible. Even though it’s been covered I know it’s there, and I love that it’s still a part of me. I also have a triquetra on the back of my neck by the same artist. It’s a symbol that represents the power of 3, and I try to live by that rule. I’m a firm believer that what you send out comes back to you.
I finally started to wise up and got tattooed by a professional. My good friend did the cover-up on my left arm. I have a nautical themed ½ sleeve. I got the seahorse to represent my father. He raised me and my siblings so it’s an ode to him. The rest of the sleeve represents my Portuguese heritage and my love of the ocean. The octopus in my armpit, Brutus, is probably the most painful tattoo I’ve ever gotten. Not only was the inking painful, but the healing process was agonizing. But I would do it again any day, it’s one of my favorite tattoos I have.
My pin-up skunk on my right shoulder is for my grandmother on my mother’s side. She collects skunks and it reminds me of her. It’s kind of ironic that I have chosen to get a tattoo for her, as she is not happy that I have any tattoos at all. My mother’s side of the family is Catholic. I was always told that it was a sin to put a mark on your body. But I have always gone my own way in my life. I guess you could say I’m the black sheep of the family. I do not feel that tattooing the body is wrong. I believe it’s only a shell. I am a soul , trapped in a body, trying to shine through.
The 2 roses on my inner forearms represent my sisters. I am in the process of having them redone. I wanted the two roses to be very similar, but not exactly alike. The left rose was recently done and is the brightest tattoo I have. It’s also the tattoo most people compliment on. I started using a new healing method and it’s proved to heal my skin beautifully. I’m very excited to get the other one done soon.
I got the Pretty H8 Machine on my left forearm when I was elected Captain of my roller derby team. It was my 25th birthday. It represents duality and strength. There’s another side of me that comes out on the track. I love that side of me and roller derby is the best thing that’s happened in my life for several years. My team also got matching ink. Most of us from the 2011-2012 season have tear drops on the inside of our fingers. We are all tied together by blood, sweat, tears & ink. A group of us went together on a Friday the 13th to get small tattoos. That’s how I came to have Good Luck Bear on my right inner wrist. I got the tattoo because I collected Care Bears growing up, and now I’ve switched to collecting tattoos. I also wanted to add a little luck to my life. I love getting tattooed with a group of people. There is a certain bond you get when you get inked together that can never be broken.
My wooden rosary on my right forearm is a memorial for a lost love. It says “ Grá Fíor Bás Riamh” which means “True Love Never Dies” in Gaelic. There is a part of him that will stay with me forever. I wanted the tattoo to be very simple and natural. I am going to add shamrocks and Irish roses to it soon. It remind me that it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all. I also have an Irish heart wrapped in angel’s wings on my right bicep. I got this tattoo for my best friend, Bradly. He passed away in 2012. He was only 29 years old. I had been friends with him for 21 years. He was like a brother to me and I miss him every day. His initials and the year of his birth/ death surround the tattoo. It reminds me to cherish the people in your life while you can.
The tattoo on my right hand says “Semper Tecum”. It means “Always with you” in Latin. I got this tattoo together with someone who will always be with me in my heart, even if we aren’t together in this world. I have many memorial tattoos, but this is not one of them. The person who has the matching tattoo hasn’t passed on. But just like the ink will always be with me, so is this person. Some things aren’t meant to be, but that doesn’t mean you have to regret the time invested.
My left rib cage is a memorial portrait of my grandmother on my father’s side. She was very special to me. She had rose bushes, so I surrounded her with roses. I am also going to put a portrait of my grandfather next to her, to complete the tattoo. I chose to use their military portraits because of the soft tones. This piece is still a work in progress, but is becoming my favorite tattoo.
My right thigh is a piece I have always wanted to get tattooed. It is an archeological dig called “Love’s Eternal Embrace”. It was discovered in Mantua, Italy. It may sound morbid, but I fell in love with the image of these two loves locked in embrace in their grave. I want to find love like that in this world. The tattoo is a reminder to settle for nothing less.
The tattoos on my feet come as a pair. The right says “Nothing Ventured” with the image of a compass. The left says “Nothing Gained” with the image of an anchor on a rope being help by a sparrow. I am a believer in destiny, but I feel we need to be the author of the story that leads up to that destiny. I feel that taking chances is the best thing we can do in life. Challenging ourselves to reach goals we never though attainable. Failing, and getting back up to try harder. Wiser, stronger and more alive than ever before. These tattoos remind me to follow my instincts and not to be afraid to take chances.
I don’t think I’ll ever stop getting tattooed. It’s a part of who I am. I believe getting tattooed is therapeutic. For me, it’s been a release of emotion and a way to remember certain times in my life. Just like my skin heals after getting a tattoo, the process of getting tattooed has helped me heal. They help me deal with life and death. They help me feel comfortable in this cage of skin.