They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Well, not always.
I recently went to Vegas. And the tattoo that I got in Vegas, most definitely came home with me.
And let me just say – I love my tattoo!
Yes, I am fifty plus years old. Yes, I’ve had a tattoo before and paid hundreds to have it removed. And yes, I have been planning for years to get another one.
Because of my first experience – getting a cute sun tattoo on my ankle – that never looked like the cute sun I intended it to be. It looked like a wicked- sharp pointed compass. I was a bit hesitant – thus the years of deliberation on exactly what design I would have permanently placed on my body.
With the not-so-cute sun, I probably just should have gone with it. When people constantly asked, “Is that a compass?” Instead of replying, “No, it’s a sun.” and being met with quizzical looks of doubt. I should have replied, “Yep, and now I’m never lost.” Alas, hindsight. But really, the shadowed pointed rays lent a wickedness to that sun, and it never really felt right.
This tattoo on the other hand is perfect! And I got it in Vegas on my girls’ weekend at 3 am in the morning. Can’t get better than that!
As much as I was not fond of my sun tattoo – I missed having a tattoo. Seven years ago I was wandering a small town gift shop and drug store while visiting my parents at their lake cabin in North Dakota. when I came upon one of those small 2-inch gift boxes. The small boxes housed games, books, stickers, and in some cases tattoos. I found a box of Celtic tattoos, and I knew I found a direction!
First, I’m Irish. Second, that summer was a dark time for me. Even though I was spending time at the lake cabin – a place I have always considered to be my happy place – I was not happy. That week was to be a family vacation – my husband, our three kids, and me. But two days before the trip, my husband informed me that no, he was not going to go with us. Looking back, it all makes sense why he suddenly refused to go with us and visit my parents – but at the time, all I knew was my marriage was in deep crisis. To say I was sad would be a huge understatement. I was devastated. I was scared. I was lonely. I was confused.
That little 2-inch box of tattoos reminded me of who I am. Not only am I Irish, I am strong. Like an endless Celtic knot I believe in the interconnectedness of life and eternity. The knot symbolized for me that life goes on. That there are cycles of birth, life, rebirth. Even as I grieved what was happening to my marriage, I knew that eventually I would “rebirth” into a new phase of life, and that I would be OK. Not to get too cheesy, but buying that little green box gave me hope. And I knew my next tattoo would be a Celtic knot.
Flash forward eight years (divorced, remarried, moved twice, and a new job), I still have my box of tattoos bought in that small drugstore in Bottineau, and I have filled a Pinterest board with tattoos – many of them Celtic in nature. But committing to a design was difficult. The compass looking sun kept flashing in my mind. But there I was in Vegas – tattoos studios open 24 hours – and I knew it was time.
I was not currently training for anything that involved swimming, so I would be able to stay out of the swimming pool for ten days – a requirement of getting a tattoo and a stumbling block in the past. There was a tattoo studio in our hotel and my girlfriends were there for support.
So at one a.m. we all wander into the tattoo studio in our hotel. There is one tattoo artist and he was busy working on a young man. I was invited in to check out the tattoo in process, and I was amazed at the beauty of the Chuck’s work. This young man was getting a large, colorful tattoo paying homage to the Chicago Blackhawks. The large “C” with two crossing tomahawks, and dangling feathers was simply beautiful! I knew that Chuck was the tattoo artist for me.
It was time to commit to a design. Flipping thorough my Pinterest board on my phone – I decided that the Celtic sister knot was for me. This is a knot that is a combination of the Celtic trinity knot and a heart. The trinity knot represents to me that I am strong and life goes on, the heart represents to me my sister who I lost 25 years ago, and the Celtic roots pays homage to my Irish heritage. The fact that Gavin and the boys wore Irish Kilts at our wedding, and that Gavin and I vacationed in Ireland last year are bonus memories that surface when I look at my tattoo.
I was told to come back in an hour. So we spent another hour of wandering the casino and then headed back to see Chuck. He was still busy working on the Blackhawk design. The young man told me his story of playing hockey and that he he also told me that he had a five a.m. flight home. I still wonder if he made that flight.
As I waited and waited for my turn. My friends slowly one-by-one said good night- it was getting too late for them. All except for one friend. Nusheen stuck it out with me the entire time. Eventually it was my turn. What was to take about 20 minutes – took over an hour. Chuck took his time making sure the design was exactly as I wanted it to be. The room was freezing cold – Nusheen and I were shivering, but Chuck in his intense zone of creating was sweating.
The number one question from my friends – did it hurt? Yes! It hurt a lot! And it was worth it!
I love my Celtic sister knot tattoo. It is steeped in meaning – past, present, and future. There is no beginning, there is no ending, and right smack in the middle of it all – there is love.
If you have a tattoo – How did you decide on your design? Is there a special meaning to it?
Love the tattoo. Where is it placed? I’m over 50 too and wonder where something like this would look best on us…
I have it on the upper part of my breast. It is covered by most tank tops and bra straps, but easy to show if I want to. I love that I can always see it. If it was on my back somewhere – I would not be able to see it as well.
Great tattoo! I might get one one day. My husband has our daughters name and date of birth and her feet as a newborn on his arm. It’s so crazy feet and remember her being so small.
One of my daughters loves her tattoos and puts a lot of thought into what she permanently inks on her body. Glad you are happy with your choice and what a memory of your trip to Vegas.
No tattoos here, but I love the story behind yours. I enjoyed reading about the long process and thoughtfulness behind it. So much more than ink on your skin.
How fun. I’ve yet to get a tattoo because I can’t decide on what I’d want. Exciting that you went for it!
My only advice – that I learned the hard way. The tattoo should have meaning beyond being a pretty/cool picture.
Your tattoo looks very pretty. Sounds like it was a fun time!
Thank you, It was a great (albeit fast) weekend.
I don’t have any tattoos. But I have been tempted to get one.
Aw how fun! I got my first tattoo at about 22/23 and I’m planning more, but, like you, I’m taking my time haha!
I love tattoos with a story behind them! I have always wanted to get a particular one– it’s the fruit of the spirit, and there is a cross in the middle and then doves in a circle around it– but I’m deathly afraid of needles!
That sounds like a really cool design. I never looked at the needle. I was tempted a few times – but it really hurt, so I just looked away.
Oh I love this story, it is so cute! I have been hanging to see your tattoo since you hinted at it last week 🙂 I am Irish as well, so I totally get the meaning behind your tattoo – such a strong symbol for such an important moment in your life!
Such a gorgeous tattoo! I really love how it came out!
Aww, you have a beautiful family! Sorry about losing your sister so many years ago. I am happy you chose a tattoo with so much meaning….it is pretty and your pics taken in Ireland are beautiful. My husband is half Irish and Ireland is on my bucket list to visit sometime.
Lovely pictures and story, but mostly i LOVED your tattoo. I also wear a few tattoos and i am planning on adding a few more soon. Awesome post. Hope you are having a great monday!
Thank you! I will say that can be a little addicting 🙂 I’m not sure if I will get another one or not – time will tell.
I am not a personal fan of tattoos for myself but I love the backstory behind my friends tattoos. One of my friends has a tattoo to comemorate her dad and it is a simple yet beautiful reminder of his legacy. What drew me to this story is how despite having a tattoo fail the first time you did not let that stop you and at the end chose a tattoo that truly meant something to you. Celtic culture is steeped in mystery and your tattoo is a true example of that xx
Yes, tattoos are not for everyone. And you are right – what feels so perfect about this tattoo was all of the meaning behind it. This tattoo stands for so much that is meaningful to me and my life.
You are so brave! I’ve thought about it but just can’t muster up the courage. You are inspiring….
It did hurt! A lot! but then, once he was done the pain was gone.
I love that design! I am irish as well and love all of the symbolism and history behind what you chose- looks great!
Top of the morning to you! Yes, I love the history as well.
I think that’s one of the reasons I like this design so much.
I have never been to Vegas but my neighbor did the same thing. Love that you were looking on Pinterest.
🙂 Yes, I am sure I was not the first. the tattoo studios were busy.