Upon starting this blog, I was advised to write a short introduction for my first post. Well, this will have to do instead.
Whether you are a fan of ink on human flesh or you’re the type of person that believes the art should hang only inside places like the Met, there is without a doubt a unique story behind each piece of work. This is the story behind my first (and in no way my last) tattoo.
In January of this year, I boarded a plane that landed in Paris on my birthday. I spent six months of my life living on the side of the French Alps overlooking the breathtaking city of Grenoble, France. My days were spent learning how to drive a manual car in two feet of snow, playing/coaching American Football, and making lifelong friends . (More posts to come on this.) I lived with an American coach who became a close friend during our stay.
As the months went on, we would often wander the city trying to communicate with the locals (neither of us knew French) and burning time before our evening practices. One day in May, we wandered down a small pedestrian street that we had only been on after sunset. I knew of this area because it contained my favorite discothèque in the city, Le Vieux Manoir (The Old Manor). As we walked down the street, I noticed a few ladies smoking outside of a small shop marked Chez Simone. They immediately caught my eye because of the beauty on their skin. Their skin covered in bold lines and sharp color. Perfection. Looking past them I noticed the place was a tattoo parlor. We walked in and after 10 minutes of checking out tattoo portfolios and battling the language barrier, I had an appointment.
My first tattoo was in France. On the side of the Chartreuse mountains in the French Alps. By a French tattoo artist. Who spoke English. Loved 90’s rap. And was covered head to toe in Japanese styled art. I paid for my first tattoo with money I had made playing football in a foreign country. Blows my mind.
I will always remember that day. Me from Knoxville, Tennessee. My coach from St. Petersburg, Florida. And my tattoo artist from Lille, France. The three of us from amazingly different backgrounds, from different parts of the world, different views on life, and with different aspirations. The three of us as we shared our passions and influences with one another, all while Ghostface Killah’s Twelve Reasons to Die played in the background. Blows my mind.
For anyone wanting to know about the pain in regards to the chest. Yes, it hurts. A lot. And you bleed. But you get used to it. The worst area is over the sternum (Imagine someone taking a chisel and scraping away at bone) and also the edge of muscle near your armpit. I wanted to cry like a little girl. And as cliché as it sounds, its very pleasurable.
My tattoo is a poem by my childhood best friend, who unexpectedly passed away at the age of 21. The day I heard he passed away I knew I wanted this tattooed on my chest, over my heart, to have with me the rest of my life.
He wrote this poem in the 5th grade after one of his classmates passed away. He’s now my guarding angel. The poem reads:
If there were no sky, no trees
Then where are the bird songs in the breeze
These are the questions of our life
That will be answered on fine night
When you bow your head and begin to recite
A simple prayer that might change your life
This will forever be the “S” on my chest. I love you Aaron.
Here is a healed picture a few days later.
This is us outside of Chez Simone. Finally! My first tattoo. From left to right: Me, the shop Owner, my artist, and my coach.
I see this tattoo every morning when I wake up and every time I get out of the shower. It reminds of my childhood, of my dear friend, and of the six months I spent in France. It reminds me of pure happiness.
Now, the only problem I have is the empty feeling I get when I see the rest of my skin.
Peace and love to you.