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Etched In Ink VII: In Love & In Ink


By Kevin Sheehan, Special Columnist

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Some of you may have seen this on my personal Facebook, but I wanted to share it with everyone in hopes to further de-stigmatize tattoos in our culture. Also, I keep my Facebook relatively private, so you may not have seen it.

A while ago, I asked Lori if she trusted me enough to design a tattoo for us. We had joked about getting matching tattoos on our second date, and now that we are married, I figured it was as good as time as any. It had to be our tattoo though (something that meant a lot to both of us), and also we agreed that neither of our names were to be in it.

So with the idea of a sketch, and the help of one of my best friends Kate, I came up with this. Lori did not know what it was until she looked at the finished product on her own leg (by the way, this is my leg that is hairy, I haven’t taken a picture of hers).

The words at the top and the bottom are actually in our own handwriting. Kate and I tricked her in to writing a few sentences to helping with her “occupational therapy writing assignment” and then took the words we needed out to form the sentence below. So Lori helped design and draw out this tattoo, and had no idea that she did. The words “Your forever is all that I need” are from the song we danced to at our wedding as our first dance.

The streetlight sticker to the side is for Streetlight Manifesto, which was our first concert we ever went to together, and a favorite band of mine since I was a teenager.

Colors going vertical on the side is loosely based off of the album cover “Colors” by Between the Buried & Me. That was my favorite concert when they did their 10-Year Anniversary tour, and while there we picked up a shirt that had the album cover design on it. I love that shirt, and Lori keeps stealing it from me, but it fits her better anyway. (I have another tattoo also referencing a song off that album that is one of my favorite songs.)

Anyone who knows Lori knows Twenty One Pilots is her favorite band, and after having seen them in concert and having a night I cherish from that experience, I felt it fit to add the logo in the bottom center of the boombox. (She fell asleep on the way back from Tampa, and I used both my left hand to shift and steer, because she was holding on to my right hand while sleeping.)

The heartbeat monitor is for lyrics from my favorite Twenty One Pilots song “Holding On To You”. The lyrics to that part in reference are: “Lean with it, rock with it, when we gonna stop with it, lyrics that mean nothing, we were gifted with thought. Is it time to move our feet to an introspective beat? It ain’t the speakers that bump hearts, it’s our hearts that make the beat.”

While getting this tattoo, I created a playlist that had songs from every band I have mentioned and every memory we have. As Lori was getting her tattoo (she was laying down so she couldn’t sneak a peek), during every song, I mentioned the band and the memory we have together from the tune currently playing. So during the hour and a half she was getting the tattoo, we talked about our first dance, our wedding, our first concert, our favorite concerts, the time she fell asleep on the drive home…. and then when she finally saw the tattoo, it was every memory we had just talked about.

Lori trusted me enough to design a tattoo that she would wear forever without seeing it (relationship goals, you guys). She thought I might come up with a tattoo, but I gave her a reminder of how amazing our relationship has been so far, and I gave her a reminder that no matter what music is playing through our speakers, it is our two hearts that cause us to move to the same rhythm. I gave her a reminder of how our lives just aren’t as compete or balanced without each other. And now we finally have matching tattoos.

But there is one more detail. There is a moon on one of the volume knobs on the right hand side. That is in reference to the cover of “Shadows Are Security” by As I Lay Dying, which has a moon on the cover. On that album is one of my top three songs called “Confined” (also referenced in a different tattoo. In that song, the lyrics start off with “That night, I never came home.”

That lyric is one of the most relatable lyrics I have ever heard. There have been many instances in my life where I changed as a person unexpectedly, and never came back to who I was before, hence, I never came home. For the longest time, I never had a home, and I felt like I never had a family (or at least the version of the family that the social construct tells us we should have). If fact, I left home and went through hell. After leaving there, I tried coming and find somewhere to be. Then Lori became my family. Her parents became my parents, her siblings became my siblings, everything.

So I put the moon on the knob because finally I can turn down the volume to that feeling. I finally have a home. It might be noisy at times, but that is because our hearts beat too loud.

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