Story #11: I have 5 tattoos.
During my time in Boston, my older sister, Maya was living in Providence, Rhode Island. Despite the fairly short distance between us, we wrote each other letters regularly. School starts at the end of August and my birthday is at the end of September. It’s something to look forward to 4 weeks into the academic year. I began school young-ish, so typically everyone in my class was older than me and I “caught up” on September 30th, my bday.
Knowing that in a few short weeks I would finally turn 18 ( :O !!!!) and be a real full grown adult, Maya and I began planning an executive action to really own my adult power. In our letters between Boston and Providence, we would send drawings and designs for our first tattoo. My birthday gift was to be one with no return receipt.
We discussed several ideas and drew lots of different things. We knew we wanted something kind of tribal so we settled on an arrowhead shape. We decided the tattoo was about our family and the idea of creating an infinite bond to others. As we picked the location of the tattoo and the symbols we wanted to incorporate, the image began to take shape.
The deed was done in the Fall of 2004. Maya and I have matching tattoos on opposite ankles. They mirror each other. Mine is on the inside of my left ankle bone. The design mirrors itself, as well. The double arrowhead contains two A’s, referencing the A’s in our names, and an infinity symbol. The infinity symbol references both infinite time and space, and the four siblings in our family. And that’s how I got my first tattoo.
See if you can figure out whose legs are whose in the featured photo. I still trip out when I look at this picture. No tricks! I’m not that advanced. Here’s a hint: I took the photo.
The remaining four vary in size and in significance. I have an elephant tattoo, red arm bands, a finger tattoo and a tattoo on my head. To maintain at least a little bit of mystery, I won’t divulge the details of how each came into being or their exact locations. You’ll have to find me in person for that.
The tattoo that is the most intriguing is my arm tattoo, for two reasons. First, it’s the most obvious. Second, it’s red. The reaction I typically get is “Is that real?” Yes, it’s real. People think it’s henna, though I’ve never seen henna as bright as the red on my arm. It’s a big tattoo. I never thought I would get a big arm tattoo. In my head, I still don’t associate that with myself. So it’s comical to look down and realize that I do indeed have large permanent tattoos on obvious parts of my body. Oops!
I love this tattoo. Big confession: I copied my friend Hannah. When I saw her delicate red arm bands, I was smitten. I remember complimenting her and saying “those are so beautiful!” Her response: “Yea! Get some!” I thought, “Yea, OK.” It was several years later that I committed to my own red arm bands in Taos, New Mexico.
Which is a whole other story. My 20 minutes of writing are up! I’d love to hear your tattoo anecdotes! How did you end up getting your first tattoo? Why do you love or hate tattoos? Please send me a photo and your story to lara at lara buelow dot com.
I’m glad we did this today. Big love homies, LB ❤