New Ink

Tattoos are expensive, painful and permanent. So why do people get them? I suppose it’s for many different reasons. Some say it’s in order to be different, while others claim they are just trying to fit in with all the other tattooed people. Some think that tattoos are just a cry for attention, a rebellion against society, or a way to hide who they truly are. Many people find them unattractive, or even repulsive. Still others see them as something beautiful, as a piece of “body art.”

I got my first tattoo when I was 17 years old. I lied about my age and had a dying Tree with broken roots tattooed on my back. At the time I was going through a mini existential crisis and was struggling to accept the fact that I was actually mortal, which was quite a shock for a 17 year old kid. Since then I’ve gotten new tattoos at different milestones in my life. For me, they tell the collective story of the significant events of my life experience.

When I was 20 years old I made a promise to my Mother that one day I would get the roots of my Tree re-attached. With the birth of my daughter I felt like the time had come. So this week the roots were connected and the entire tattoo was refilled with a fresh coat of ink.

For the second time in our life, my sister joined me in the tattoo ritual. She got new ink on her wrist.

I will share with you a truism about getting tatted. If you are a woman, it is ok to scream and even cry during the ink job. If you are a man… that is simply not allowed. I’m not being sexist. That is just the way it is, and you should know that prior to engaging in the process.

Since we found a great tat shop 5 blocks from our apartment, and since tats are ridiculously cheap here in Peru, I decided to have a little more work done. What would have cost $1000 in the US was less than $100 here in Peru. Hard to turn that opportunity down.

The earliest tattoos found are more than 5,000 years old. In 1991, a 5,300-year-old mummy was discovered in the Alps. He had more than 50 tattoos on various parts of his body, and he is the oldest human ever found to have tattoos.

The rationale of tattoos has differed from one culture to another during the centuries. Egyptians used tattoos to differentiate slaves and peasants. Then tattoos spread to China and Greece around 2,000 B.C. where they were used as a mode of communication between spies. Through all the different religious and cultural reasons, it seems that today tattoos persist for the love of art.

I bit down on my lip for 3 and 1/2 hours while the needle carved another large piece of art on my back. I thought about the huge event that just transpired in my life, the birth of my new daughter Soleil. From the first moment I saw her I knew that things would never be the same. I would never be the same.

Now I am a Father. And I will always be a Father. I love you Sol.


P.S. I think Stevie might be gearing up for a new tat soon. Stay tuned.

Family Iron Faith – remember here 

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  1. Auntie Alex says:

    Love the new tat! And you speak the absolutely the truth, when your child is born and you realize how pure, how innocent all people are the moment they’re born, something inside you changes you forever and you will never be the same.

  2. Love it! I don’t have any tattoos and probably never will, but there is something awesomely sweet about having your daughter’s name emblazoned on your back like that. Also that your ladies inspired you to redraw your roots. Pure love that.

  3. gorgeous! Love the new one

  4. Nonituyas says:

    I love that we all have the Family Fe’ tattoo. It’s awesome that all your tats tell your story, and have such meaning for you. Now Tree, I’d love to see a new leaves grow on your “Life Tree” – one every year, celebrating Soleil’s birthdays. She IS your gift to the world, your immortality.

  5. Doesn’t surprise Tree is now wearing his new daughter…good work too. Interested to know what the ones on your wrists are?? Thanks for sharing.

    • Hey Donna,
      Click on the “remember here” link above the photo. Stevie’s post will tell the story.

  6. Beautiful Tree and I love that you got your roots have grown back in. You both know the struggle I was going through prior to J getting his tattoo. Not because I don’t like them, I actually do, and placed well on certain bodies they can be extremely sexy and beautiful. It’s funny thing is that you posted this tonight because I was doing yoga tonight and my mind kept wandering back to my handsome man’s body and wondering how we can paint it some more. He doesn’t know that I have given in just yet–but of course I want it to be something meaningful to him (and maybe me) and not just artwork. I just hope that this time it can be a positive event like the growth of our family rather than death. I am so happy for you guys and can’t wait to meet Sol.

  7. Chris Shinpaugh says:

    leave some room for my name.

  8. A big charger bolt across your neck would be awesome. Just sayin

    • Anonymous says:

      GO 49ers!

    • I already have that tattoo but I can’t show it on the blog… because… you know, it wouldn’t be appropriate. Carry on Sisco.

      ps. You’re a loser. Why don’t you skype me.

  9. Great Aunt Debby and Great Uncle Bary says:

    Wow Tree, that is so beautiful and symbolic. I love your Moms idea of adding a leaf for each year of Sol’s life. Having the roots reattached is also such a great symbol of how you have grow and changed. Beautiful! What does the one on Indra’s wrist mean?

  10. Lee Nelson says:

    ohhhhh MAN….better leave room for whoever comes next! What a DAD!

  11. Madrigal Madri says:

    Pura vida !!!!

  12. I love it. Thank you Tree!
    I always love the story behind Tatoos. One girl I met had her Dad nickname he had for her in his handwriting on her arm. I love the stories..
    You are amazing. I think the tree is one of my favorites now. Can I ask what the matching ones on your wrists are, the meaning?

  13. Tree that is such a touching story. I loved your history lesson too about the origins of tattoos. Obviously body adornment has been around for centuries and it’s part of our human nature to express ourselves through permanent art that stays with us forever. I don’t have a tattoo, mostly because I tend to keloid scar, but if I could I would!!

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