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Tattoo Stories

Tattoo Stories: Tanya

Lets just say, my life hasn’t been what you’d call easy. I’m not complaining, I’m not looking for sympathy, I’m simply stating fact. I do everything backwards, and i ONLY learn lessons the hard way. Its really just who I am.

So, after a tumultuous childhood and a string of shitty relationships with boys that needed a mother and not a girlfriend, i found myself pregnant by a guy I’d been “casually dating” for 4 months. I had just gotten a new job at a prison, (yup, I said prison) and I thought that my only option was to make it work, so for the duration of my pregnancy, and the first year of my sons life, that’s what I did. I tried, and tried, and tried… while he  stole from me, lied to me, bounced from job to job, and made it his daily goal to make me feel unattractive, worthless and sad.

And then, I broke. I couldn’t pretend anymore, his lies made me a liar. I needed to do better, to BE better for my baby!! I decided that it was over.

The first time that I met my husband I was 7 months pregnant. I asked my Lt who the hot new Sgt was, and she told me to keep my crazy pregnant hormones in check. I worked for another month, and then went out on a 6 month maternity leave. I had so much drama in my life, that i just kind of forgot about that really cool tattooed Sgt with the buddy holly glasses.

The first time that I really “saw” my husband, was after I’d returned from maternity leave. I was dropping off paperwork to our headquarters when Brad came to retrieve a schedule. We exchanged some small talk and then I noticed that his eyes were two different colors. The sunlight hit his face in such a fashion that my breath stuck in my throat. i looked down to compose myself, and noticed the swallows tattooed on the backs of his hands. I grabbed one, and started very excitedly asking him about them. I told him that I’d always wanted swallows,  but never really knew how i wanted to incorporate them into a tattoo… then I realized that I was standing in the middle of the hallway, at my place of work, holding and literally stroking this guys hand that I didn’t even know! I have this extreme talent of making awkward situations even more awkward, so of course that’s what I did, and abruptly left the situation.

For whatever reason, he was cool with this. A few days later he called me in my office, offered me his phone number, and we made arrangements to go out that week. we kissed at the end of our first date. I fell in love at that very moment, in the third parking spot, at the TGI Fridays in Mount Laurel, NJ. We moved in together after our third date.

Bradley is the inspiration behind my tattoo. Those red swallows swooped into my life so completely unexpectedly, and very literally took my broken heart and sewed it back together. I am more whole now then I have ever been, and I have my husband, our two children, a pair of swallows, and that awkward moment in the middle of a prison to thank for that.

Tattoo Stories: Lyssa

The three mast ship on my right thigh is there in honor of my dad. He died when I was fifteen, in a motorcycle accident on August 15, 2009. He was a biker who was covered in tattoos, so I knew immediately I wanted to get a tattoo in his memory. It seemed like the only thing to do. After he died, I was a confused, truth-starved, story-seeking, wisdom-hunting teenager for about a year and a half. Sixteen was not so sweet for me. Almost a full year after he passed away, my aunt, my cousin, my dad’s best friend, and I went to the beach and sailed out on a ship a few miles into the ocean where we sprinkled my dad’s ashes. In that moment, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I looked down into the salty waters to see the ashes spiraling, down, down, down, becoming one with the earth and its waters. And I swore to myself that I saw his face one last time in those swirling ashes (if you’ve never seen this, its similar to how cream swirls into coffee). On the ride back to shore, my foot was burning and stinging pretty bad. I looked down to see a small cut on my foot, irritated by the salt water that was splashing onto it over and over as we sailed.

My dad loved the ocean and always had, he often went fishing with his father, and my best memories of my dad are on the beach or in the sun at least. I decided to get a ship and waves because the whole experience of losing my dad took me on a journey… a voyage. It taught me that each person has their own journey to experience, that no journey is better or more significant or superior than another, but most of all that every journey, every life, has a God-given purpose. My heavenly Father had sent me on a journey, and this was all part of it. I could not allow myself to be a ship wreck anymore, I had to pick up the pieces and sail on! Yes, my dad would always be with me, in the waters underneath me and in my past, but this could not prevent me from going places, loving people, and seizing the day. It had to be the power that pushed me on; not the thing that held me back. It had to be what kept my ship buoyant; not what I crashed into. I had to let the salt water heal my cuts, so that I could get on with my journey.

– Lyssa

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