A constant reminder


Meghan Kennedy

This picture was taken right after my tattoo was completed. Artwork courtesy of Stephanie Lane at Honest to Goodness.

I got my first tattoo—it’s probably the best birthday gift I have received thus far in my life. On a Wednesday night, I got a hummingbird—sipping the nectar from flowers, encircled in a ring of rough hash marks—embellished in my forearm. 

When I came to the conclusion that I wanted to get a tattoo, I was lost in limitless Pinterest boards and articles giving me “inspiration,” but none of them seemed to fit what I was looking for. Although what I was looking for had not yet been specified, I felt that I would know it when I saw it. I thought of the things that elicited a reaction in me, made me feel a sense of connection, and continued sifting through my bank of memories to find what I was seeking. 

As cliche as it seemed, my mind drifted to flowers—my favorites in particular: columbines, foxgloves, forget-me-nots, dahlias, geraniums, and primroses. Each has a different significance to me, a special connection to fond memories. But I didn’t want to just get a simple bouquet; I needed something extra with an edge to juxtapose the delicate beauty. Then, I thought of the birds that are prominent in my life. The first one that came to mind was a crow—though it was an unorthodox choice, I’ve always viewed crows as a sign of peace, protection, and as the intersection between humankind and the natural world. 

I started tracing out ideas in my mind of what I envisioned my tattoo to be; several poses of this crow holding my selected flowers underneath its sharp, onyx feathers. But a few days before my consultation, I found myself rifling through my junk drawer. As I clawed through the sea of pencils, polaroids, and stray papers, a piece of metal gleamed through the stuff and things. I plucked it from beneath the heaping pile and was immediately reminded of what it was; the lid from my grandma’s jewelry box. It’s a weathered, turquoise, circular box with a tin top featuring the design that now belongs to my arm.

At that moment, the choice was so, very clear. It checked all of my boxes and had just the right amount of intricate elements to suffice for my tattoo expectations. Plus, it was something that I knew I would want to carry with me my whole life.

But most of all, it is more than just a tattoo; it’s a mark of my independence, my deepest connections that I carry with me.

The night came, and I felt surprisingly calm. When I talked with my artist, Stephanie, during the consultation, I told her that I thought I would be more nervous right before the pen hit my skin. As I laid on the padded table, only a particle of fear floated into my mind. It was something that I was so sure about, that the pain I was expecting didn’t even matter. After the sterilization period, the needle was out and about and my idea was just about to become reality.

After four-and-a-half hours of splattering ink, stinging skin, and conversations with Stephanie about music and crafts and second-hand shopping, my forearm was decorated in my desire—I was beyond elated. The design from the metal circle was exactly replicated on my arm; every mark, every imperfection, every detail that I fervently adored. It was so unbelievably worth it.

It’s been a few weeks, but every time I look at this tattoo, I am overtaken by gratitude, satisfaction, and most importantly, no regrets at all. The feeling of having something to nurture, to heal, to help be a part of me is unmatched. But most of all, it is more than just a tattoo; it’s a mark of my independence, my deepest connections that I carry with me.

The design that was replicated from the aforementioned jewelry box.

This tattooing process was an entirely solo experience—I went for it all by myself. I knew that I needed to be alone in this venture, in the consultation, and the actual tattooing process; it was a way for me to come to peace with my own individuality, to eliminate my fears of being an independent person. And it is now stamped on my skin forever.

I’ve received overwhelming love and approval on my tattoo and have even garnered several hummingbird-themed objects and symbols along the way. I’ve come to the realization that the hummingbird is now associated with my identity, and I couldn’t be more pleased with that. In the future, there is a strong possibility that I will get my crow and my flowers inked onto my body, but for now, the hummingbird is all that belongs to me. 

Every time I look at my arm and the hummingbird within it, it’s a constant reminder of the memories that made me the person I am now and who I will evolve to be.