The Stories Behind My Tattoos

In a recent post, I talked about a tattoo I have on my hand and how it helped bring me closer back to my “center”. If you haven’t read that post you can click HERE to check that out before reading on. I decided that I would share more with you about that particular tattoo and the other ones I have. Let’s get to it! In chronological order. Did you really think it was going to go any other way with me?

PHOTO BY: DORIAN CASTRO

To celebrate my twenty-seventh birthday, my friend Sahana and I drove up the Bay Area for the day. While we were there, Sahana and I got our first tattoos in Alameda. Because of the company we were both working for at the time, they had to be easily concealed and to be real, since it was my first tattoo, I didn’t want to commit to any large piece and chicken out on finishing it. I decided on coordinates just below my collarbone on my left side. The coordinates are for the city of Seoul in South Korea, the capital of the country where I grew up. Had I not lived there, it’s likely I would be a very different person. If you ask me where I’m from, more often than not, that’s going to be the answer you get. It’s confusing to some people because I am not Korean but it’s fun for me to watch them squirm sometimes.

PHOTO BY: DORIAN CASTRO

The latte stone tattoo was my second. Again, I was in the Bay Area at the time but my cousins Shelly and Leilani went with me and got matching tattoos on their hands as well. As I explained, we got them to represent our Chamorro heritage that we all identify closely with but the reason behind the placement for mine gets a little nerdier. Prepare yourselves. According to palmistry, each of your fingers represents a Greek god or goddess. The ring finger represents Apollo, who among other things, was worshipped as the god of light, truth, and intelligence. He was also the leader of the Muses, the goddesses of inspiration. I decided to have the latte stone inked on the side of my finger rather than on top because this tattoo was “for me”. It was a reminder of not only where I come from but where my inspiration comes from: my heritage, my history, my family, my foundations. The story based on my grandparents' adolescence was the first story I took seriously and allowed an instructor to read. I cannot sit down to type out anything pertaining to that story or any other without seeing the tattoo that represents that side of myself on my hand. I carry them with me everywhere. 

PHOTO BY: DORIAN CASTRO

My most recent tattoo is the one on my arm that my friends so affectionately call my “chola tattoo”: script on my right forearm that reads “live to be a light in the darkness”. I am going to try to sum up the story behind this tattoo as best I can. There have been a few times in my life when I felt extremely alone. The worst was when I was living in North Carolina for three years where I had no family and where I struggled to make friends outside the couple of classmates I had at the local community college. This was a stark difference to the life I was living in Hawai’i where my some cousins were stationed and where I had a wonderful group of friends. Try as I might to remember that this stay in N.C. was only temporary, I fell into a depression and started experiencing anxiety in a way I never had before. It took me ten minutes to leave the house because I would check each and every single door and each and every single window several times before leaving. I’d have to make sure each of the burners were off on the stove. I’d drive in a circle around my neighborhood because I’d be afraid I didn’t close the garage door. Because I knew this wasn’t normal, I didn’t tell anyone about it or if I did, I’d say it like it was a joke comparing it to Sheldon’s OCD on The Big Bang Theory for fear of being judged or having to be put on medication if I went to the doctor. Things got worse when I moved back to California before they got better but I am happy to say that I have not been in that dark of a place in a long time - but I remember what it was like and I remember what it was like to need someone. So, I try to live in the light. I try my best to be someone that others can turn to if they need to know they’re loved and that they aren’t alone. This tattoo is, in a way, another reminder of where I was at one point and how far I’ve come.

There are other tattoos I know I want to get in the future but the reasons for them haven’t happened yet. And I’m sure that there will be other life experiences that inspire me to meet with a needle and ink and when that happens, we can revisit this topic!

Do you have any tattoos? What’s the meaning behind them? Tell me in the comments down below!