Ink as inspiration

I ended up getting my snake tattoo in kind of a funny way. I had doodled out the design while bored in some useless class near the end of high school and showed it to my stepmom later that day. After looking at it for a couple of seconds, all she said was, “This has to be your first tattoo.” The next thing I knew, I was booked at the place where she got her tattoos done.

The snake represents many things to me, but mostly it’s a symbol of personal growth, wisdom and adaptability. Also, there are elements of beauty and danger that I feel make the snake a good symbol.

Getting the tattoo was an interesting experience. I wasn’t nervous about the pain or anything, I had been doing martial arts for quite a while by then and was used to all kinds of abuse. But when the artist came in 10 or so minutes late, lost the reference work and seemed a bit hung over, I was a bit worried. It also didn’t boost my confidence when the second thing he said to me was, “Oh, if I knew you didn’t have any other tattoos I wouldn’t have agreed to do a rib piece. People whine like hell for those.”

He free handed the design onto my ribs and shoulder with a Sharpie and two hours and 10 minutes later I had my first ink. According to my artist, I had “taken it like a champ.” I’m still not sure exactly what to think of that comment, but nevertheless, I was addicted to ink.

My second piece, a bat, I got done in a much more professional manner. I had drawn up some reference work, gone down for a consultation and waited about a year before the first half of it was done. After that, I waited another four months and would have had to wait longer except I had to leave this summer for a military course so luckily they pushed me ahead and I got it done earlier. The shop was very clean, well organized and everyone was very professional.

There’s an interesting story behind the meaning of my bat tattoo. A couple years ago I was living with my dad and stepmom and taking my first courses in university. That was until just after Christmas when I was informed that my parents would be getting a divorce and would be selling that place, after which I was not so politely informed that I would need to move out and pay back the $850 that they had given me to help out with tuition. Oh and they needed the money by the end of the day. To sum up the events that ensued, I managed to beg and borrow enough money to keep them happy, moved in with my uncle and worked for him installing and refinishing hardwood flooring. I eventually decided to apply for officer training in the military.

This situation was a pretty challenging stage of my life and by experiencing it I learned the value of not only survival, but of excelling even in the most dire of situations. The bat represents personal growth and self improvement even through the darkest of hours, a value I hold dear. It also symbolizes community, being able to see straight to the heart of the matter, inner reflection and in some cultures the bat god led warriors into battle.