Daily Prompt: Tattoo….You

Do you have a tattoo? If so, what’s the story behind your ink? If you don’t have a tattoo, what might you consider getting emblazoned on you skin?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us PERMANENT.
Courtesy of: The Daily Post

So yeah, I have a tattoo.  I have 2 of them actually.  however, if you look at them, it looks like one.  The artist for the second one blended them together.

The stories behind them are not too exotic.  Both tattoos are tightly linked to my life in the military.  So, I was in the Illinois Army National Guard…for 9 years.  In that time, I was deployed 3 times.  The first time we were going to Iraq, but at the last minute, our destination was switched to Germany.  The second deployment was very short, it was to New Orleans to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  Finally, I was deployed to Afghanistan for a year (9 months in country, 3 months training).

So, my unit was being told that our destination was Iraq.  We were slated to train at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  Pre-deployment Army training sucks balls.  Necessary…sure.  But, sucks balls nonetheless.  It’s always hot, and you’re running around, simulating shooting, and bombs, and wandering around in the woods figuring out which way is up, and how many ways you can potentially virtually die.

So, towards the end of the training, they decided to give us a few days to wander off base and get a taste of normal life.  While I tried to hide it as best I could, I was really freaking out.  This was 2004.  This was a period of time when Iraq was a s**t storm, and soldiers were getting killed on the daily by IED”s (improvised Explosive Devices) and EFP’s (Explosively Formed Projectiles) were literally chopping soldiers in two.

Effects of an EFP on a Humvee

Effects of an EFP on a Humvee

So, when we got time to ourselves, I had a few things on my bucket list that I wanted to accomplish.  I was dating a beautiful young woman at the time, Mirinda.  She was super cute, very curvy, blond hair, deep blue eyes, beautiful smile.  She came up to see me.  First and foremost, I made love to her so vigorously, so ferociously…it was as if my life depended on it, or as if it were the last time.  Ahh…sweet memories.

Second thing was to get a tattoo.  I can’t even remember the name of the tattoo shop, but I’m sure if I were to google it, it’s still there.  Army towns change so little sometimes.  I bet there’s still a Ruby Tuesday’s there in town, the same hotels, the same pizza hut.  Fort Leonard Wood is a place suspended in time.

So I went in.  I had no particular tattoo in mind, I just know I wanted to get one before I died, and that that was a possibility.  So, I looked through their stacks of Flash art and saw a piece of tribal art.  It looked very similar to the symbol used by the band Slipknot.

Slipknot Symbol

Slipknot Symbol

Funny enough, for any of you who watch UFC fights, the fighter Brian Stann (a decorated marine) has the exact same tattoo I have on his back.

And so I got it.  It was quick fast, and in all recollection, I wished it were bigger.

Now, I received my second tattoo in Kabul, Afghanistan.  We were at Camp Phoenix.  We were in the process of out-processing from the country.  If you’ve ever been on a military deployment, you’ll know that out-processing is the worst.  That’s when you get all your shots, and paperwork, and everything updated, and checked to make sure it’s all right.  It’s a lazy time.  Lots of downtime, relaxing, movie watching, etc.

One of the guys in my unit, Rich, was a very accomplished tattooist.  He was a very interesting guy.  We shared very similar attitudes in some ways on American politics, foreign policy, etc.  He’d tease me about being an anarchist, or political subversive…but in many ways, he was too.  He embraced it just as much as he embraced being a soldier in battle.  He did both equally well.

During out-processing, he had done a few tattoos for guys.  We’d briefly talked about me getting one, but he’d then dismiss it with “I’m not giving you a tattoo you commie” and we’d leave it at that.

One day, we were both lying in our bunks, the barrack was pretty empty.  People were out and about.  Out-processing and packing was winding down, but it was cool inside.  Rich said “Hey, what are you doing?”  I said “Just watching a movie.”  He then said “You want a tattoo?”

Yeah!  And there it was.  I told him I wanted the word freedom.  I initially wanted it going down my arm from shoulder to wrist.  But then I thought that I’d be finishing school upon returning home and job hunting, so I went with something a little more inconspicuous…Freedom around my bicep.  He initially was going to do it in the tribal style that my original tattoo was in, but shortly after starting, he said “Dude, I got a great idea, it’s going to be a little different, but badass.”  I said “You’re the artist, go for it!”

He did the entire tattoo freehand, and then blended the two together.  It’s very well done, and I love it.  I want to get the rest of the arm done in a red and black American flag motif.  That arm is kind of my past, military, Honor, God, and country…all that stuff.  My other arm will be dedicated to my present and future.  Jiu Jitsu, and the mind, health, wellness, beauty and light.

That’s the story of my tatoos.

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