Monday, December 28, 2009

Compass and Rose Tattoo

When it comes to tattoos, there are generally three kinds of people: those who have tattoos (and will probably get more), those who would never get a tattoo, and those folks in the middle who like tattoos, but may never commit to getting one themselves.

I got my first tattoo ten years ago, not long after moving to the Seattle area. It's located on my left shoulder blade area and depicts a young man sitting on the ground, hunched over, head in hands. Above him, flying out of his head are three faces. The first one is a hooded fellow who looks something like Death himself, the second is a rather angry-looking skull, and the third--the largest and most defined--is a fierce, resolute, and powerful character. You might say he represents an alter ego of the young man sitting on the ground--someone he wishes he could be.

Needless to say, I was going through some things when I got that tattoo. Even with plenty of friends around, it was a dark time for me. Depression is a bitch. I've grown up a lot since then, a lot of great things have happened to me, and though I may strike a mood every now and then, I'm generally a pretty happy person.

Because of its location on my body, I often forget I even have that tattoo, but it's always there. It doesn't represent who I am today, but that doesn't bother me. It's a mark in time. A reminder of things past.

For the past few years I've been wanting to get a new tattoo, but like many people I had a difficult time deciding what to get. I wanted it to mean something to me and if that thing was important enough, I wanted to be able to see it.

So here's the story behind this tattoo. I have an old compass that belonged to my grandfather Jack. We were pretty close when I was a kid. He was always chasing me around the house, threatening to tickle me; I always had a blast at his house.

When I was about 11 or 12 years old he took his own life. The older I get, the more the memories fade, but the event itself--the finality of it--that has always stayed with me.

The crack pattern in the glass on the tattoo matches the real crack pattern on my grandfather's compass.

The rose? Well, compass and rose imagery have gone hand in hand for ages. Also, I've always loved classic rose tattoo design so it seemed like a great fit. I guess you could say the petals falling are significant.

Lastly, the compass needle points northwest because the Pacific Northwest has been my home for the past ten years and is where so many great things have fallen into place for me. This is my home.