“The Boulder Tattoo Project has allowed me to bring breath back to the artist within me. I have wished for a tattoo since I was 12. Now, at age 53, my wish was granted! ‘Lore,’ my word, is very dear to my heart. It gives me a connection to my family, all generations of my Irish roots, their traditions and beliefs. Since this was my first tattoo, I think the word and meaning were a perfect choice! Being a member of the Boulder Tattoo Project has helped me transform myself. This past year was very difficult; I fought cancer and the love of my life died. This tattoo gave me a new outlook. The New Year of 2014 is the year of Lydia! I am finding out who I am and allowing myself to follow my dreams. For this I am grateful.”
“People ask me, ‘Why did you get that phrase tattooed on you—”the terrifying”—who does that?’ At first, I really didn’t know how to answer and so I started thinking about it. When I selected my three top choices, I was hoping I wouldn’t get the phrase I got, ‘the terrifying.’ So when I saw the phrase I got, I dreaded it. I was hoping that I could put it somewhere I could easily hide it, so that no one would ever have to see it. Then I picked up my design. After thinking about how the artists constructed the stars as a question mark, I realized that ‘the terrifying’ isn’t a statement for me; it’s a question. I have to question what is terrifying. I have thought about it over and over and over the last few months, and I have finally found what is terrifying to me. Going through a divorce and getting away from someone who treated my heart poorly is terrifying. Learning how to find the person I once was is terrifying. Finding someone who treats me the way I am supposed to be treated and having him give me his whole heart is terrifying. Not knowing how to react towards someone who loves me the way a person is supposed to be loved is terrifying. Now when I tell people why I got my tattoo, I go into the Boulder Tattoo Project story. But inside I really know that the phrase chose me and that I didn’t choose the phrase.”
“For me the Boulder Tattoo Project has been the glue that has put together many paragraphs describing aspects of my life into one large story. It is the point where many paths in my life have finally joined to create this meaningful story. To this day, I am amazed by how much I believe this project was meant to be in my life. In a way, it seems like destiny.
It all began a while back. I was in a literature class at Colorado University taught by the wonderful Aaron Angello. The class was centered around poetry. One day we happened to be discussing the idea of integrative poetry. Can completely different words/phrases that are separated be joined to create a poem? This is where I was introduced to the Lexington Tattoo Project. One person walking around the streets with a small word tattooed on their foot or hand or arm. It may be visible, it may not be. Add to this hundreds of other people with slightly similar tattoos that are still completely different words. Once these people come together, their tattoos are no longer just a part of them, but a part of a poem that describes the city they love. Excuse my language, but holy shit. I loved the idea. Every single aspect of it. A lover of tattoos and poetry, I found myself intensely jealous of the members of this project. Sigh, but I’d just have to admire the project idly from the side. Then one fantastic day, I read about this project coming to Boulder. Boulder….. The city I love and call home. I signed up immediately.
I grew up in Boulder’s neighboring town, Longmont. I had always loved Boulder but never knew I’d end up here. When I was choosing colleges to attend, Boulder was not an option because I had a scholarship to a different school. But during the application process, I felt uneasy. Then, on literally the last day to submit applications, I applied to CU. Five years later, I have one college degree and an immense love for a city. So now I have a chance to tattoo a part of Boulder on me? Sign me up.
Now for the hard part, choosing what part of the poem I wanted on my body. The rest of my tattoos have been pretty spontaneous, so I wanted a lot of thought to go into which word or phrase I was going to choose. I sat down with a paper and pen, expecting to read the poem over and over again while jotting down anything that was of significance. I read the poem once and instantly knew. In my eyes, it almost seemed like it was laying there in bold print: “into your chest.”
As a freshman, I became extremely ill. Achey muscles, constant sickness, loss of appetite. A few blood tests later and one big scare thinking I had an auto-immune disease, I was diagnosed. Depression with a big helping hand of anxiety. As a student studying medicine, I just couldn’t make sense of it. I wasn’t like those people on the commercials you see, constantly laying around with a blank face. I had had my bad days, but for the most part I was happy. The only thing slowing me down were these awful panic attacks. Immense chest pain, loss of breath, and complete loss of any critical thinking, all because I had a test the next day? Or because I was late to class? I could not live my life like that. So I developed a mantra to get me through the attacks: breathe, let go and remind yourself. I repeated this mantra constantly and I swore that it would be the first tattoo I ever got. Three tattoos later and it was still not tattooed on my body. So when I saw ‘into your chest,’ I knew I had to have it. It reminded me so much of my mantra. I chose to get it on my side so it would be close to my lungs, hopefully radiating the positive energy of this project into my lungs whenever I have a panic attack and can’t breathe.
Finally, hearing that Claw & Talon was hosting the tattoo marathon put the icing on the cake. I have gotten all my tattoos there and have praised their work. I have a huge tattoo on my thigh that Vinny created and I am constantly complimented on it whenever it is visible.
So now we’ve come to the end of my story. Who knew that a literature class, a love for poetry and tattoos, my town and an illness could all wrap together to create this beautiful masterpiece? Destiny? Fate? I have no idea what to call it, but I am extremely happy that I was able to be a part of this project. In a few months I will be leaving this city; it brings me peace knowing that I will always have a piece of Boulder tagging along with me wherever I go.
Oh, did I mention that I got to have my tattoo for my 23rd birthday? Best. Present. EVER.