I've always admired people with tattoos. The body art tells a story of who that person is and what has happened in their past. For me, it has to be important to get etched into my skin forever. I need to have the satisfaction of looking down at the tattoo and knowing exactly why it is there and the memories and emotions that are associated with it. That's how tattoos should be in my mind. Little secrets on my skin showing my journey through life and why I am who I am today.
Before now I had six tattoos. Three for my twin and three for myself. Each one a delicate reminder of what is important. I'd wanted another one but was unable to decide what to get. When I met James one of the first things I noticed when he took off his jacket were the tattoos on his arms. We had a conversation about them, comparing stories and showing each other our collections. It's safe to say that it was no secret at all that I thought his were awful. He knew this from date one and agreed that he wasn't happy with most of them. By date three I had seen all six in their entirety and my conclusion was the same. They were bad tattoos. He said he couldn't afford to get good tattoos. I questioned why he would then even get them at all.
On our last day the conversation arose again and we discussed our future body art. He said he wanted to have laser surgery on his right arm and then have it covered with a black and white full sleeve. He proceeded to show me pictures from the artist (who had a two year waiting list in Brooklyn) who he wanted to do it. He asked me what I wanted and I told him of my plans to have a black and white, horizontal design on my right arm above my elbow. I'd wanted one with that placement for months but was struggling to find a meaningful design which I wanted permanently. He asked if I had any ideas and when I said "no" he fell silent. After about a minute he said "I know what would look really good there." I immediately sighed, wrinkled my brow and said "Oh god, what?" This was a tattoo idea coming from a man who had his own initials inked into his wrist. I wasn't expecting great things.
"A triangle... with a tree in it."
I didn't even have to take a moment before the word left my lips. "No." He asked why and I reeled off the many reasons including the unnecessary triangle and the fact it would have no meaning to me at all. He laughed at my response and then I laughed too. I never thought that two months later I would be sitting at the tattoo studio in Hackney waiting to get the design, knowing that out of all my tattoos it has the most meaning to them all.
I'm obviously not going to let him take all the credit for how good the tattoo turned out. I sat down with my sister who drew the amazing design and had a long, hard think about exactly what I wanted. I decided on an a Spanish olive tree. He was learning Spanish and had such an admiration for the country. He also loved olives and thought I was weird for hating them. It seemed like the perfect choice. Now I'll carry a part of him with me forever and this gives me comfort. He's had a massive impact on my life and this is a symbol to show it. I'll never forget. This is for him.