By Zachary Risinger
It was last year, at the beginning of the fall quarter that I decided I wanted to get another tattoo. I think it’s true, what they say about tattoos — you get one, and you’re hooked.
I got my first tattoo (which is a song lyric across my chest) as my 18th birthday present from my mother, who also has three tattoos of her own (four, if you count the one she had covered up). Tattoos had never been a taboo with my family, as both my parents are pretty young in comparison to most of my friends’ parents; getting one (even a big one) wasn’t really a big deal — as long as I put some thought into it, and as long as it meant something important.
With all of my mother’s tattoos being related to me and my three younger brothers, it had never really crossed my mind to get a tattoo that didn’t mean anything personal. My chest reads “It’s Time I Trusted” — a snippet from a verse of one of my favorite bands: Broadway.
I grew up with a rather unstable childhood; that is to say, I moved over 10 times before I graduated high school, at points having to share a small room with my two younger brothers (my third younger brother was born only recently). Through all of these experiences (of which there are many more that this article simply cannot contain), I grew up learning to more or less fend for myself, being an introvert and a kid focused on sports, work and school. That was my life.
Now I’m sure you’ve all heard the expression “Trust in few” or “Trust no one but yourself” or something similar. Frankly, they’re bullshit.
I reached a point in my life where I realized that such an existence was not conducive to what it means to be a human being.
We’re naturally social creatures. We have to be able to trust one another and learn to get over the disappointment that sometimes follows. Learn to forgive.
In my own, hippie-like opinion (I’ll admit), this is the only way we can achieve peace with one another. Hence the words I have permanently inked onto my chest — a tattoo with a meaning I believe in.
Almost immediately following the pain that came with the chest tattoo (the sternum was easily the most painful part), I began coming up with ideas for my next one.
Allow me to preface this next portion with the following — I’m an English major with a passion for creative writing. I’m also a musician. What do these things mean, exactly?
It means I’m a hopeless romantic.
Having (at the time) dated my partner Nicole for almost four years (we’re coming up on five now), I had known for quite some time that we were going to spend the rest of our lives with each other — high school sweethearts.
(we’re coming up on five now), I had known for quite some time that we were going to spend the rest of our lives with each other — high school sweethearts.
While it’s an unspoken law among most people that get tattoos (or plan on getting them) that you should never get the name of your partner/spouse/whatever inked permanently onto your body. Let’s be honest, how many of those do you think tattoo artists have to cover up all the time?
Instead, I decided I was going to come up with something — a phrase, an image, anything — that somehow embodied our relationship. I started doing research to get some ideas.
I started with birds. We both liked them, and Nicole’s father calls her, much to my amusement, “Colie-Bird.” It only felt right to start with that, so I did.
Pretty quickly, I discovered that swallows (a commonly tattooed species of bird) are monogamous creatures, having only one mate their entire life. They also return to the same place every year — to their home.
After deliberating with myself for a day or two, I decided on a phrase of my own creation: “Her Heart Is My Home.”
Deciding that I wanted two swallows to be holding a banner with the phrase, the next step was placement. I made the arbitrary decision to only get tattoos on the right side of my body (with the exception of my chest), simply as a stylistic choice.
I knew I wanted to get it somewhere visible (which, to many, might sound like a dumb idea considering today’s economic climate and employers’ distaste for tattoos). I wanted it visible because I didn’t want to hide my expression of one of the important aspects of my life.
If I was going to wear something, I was going to wear it proudly — and that’s exactly what I did.
As a result, I now have two traditional-style swallows on my right forearm, extending all the way from the crook of my arm to my wrist.
As with any visible tattoos, questions from friends and acquaintances inevitably come. Sometimes, these questions come from random people, like cashiers and classmates that happen to see either my chest (because I usually wear V-neck shirts) or my arm exposed.
I usually get a response of either “that’s cool!” or a puzzled “oh,” which I find most amusing.
While I don’t expect everyone to like tattoos or even like the way mine look, I encourage everyone to be more accepting of tattoos — I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve gotten strange looks, usually from the older generations. We live in a time where a lot of things are becoming more and more accepted, and tattoos are one of them — and they should be.