"Snowflake," Nicole Mello
When I was born, on the first day of winter in 1995, it snowed, and my dad called me "Snowflake" ever since. It was just a little thing; he didn't call me that every single day, it wasn't a well-known nickname. But that was how he addressed cards to me, and it was the little drawings he did to make me feel better, and it was the ornament he gave me on my birthday every year. My dad was my first best friend, and still remains my best friend to this day. He is my first line of support and my favorite voice to hear in the mornings, since I still call him every day to talk to him.
My father and I share a lot of things - our Portuguese heritage, our love of writing, our excitement for holidays, our fascination with films, our compassion, and our mental illness. We share obsessive-compulsive disorder, an incredibly damaging disease that has haunted me since my childhood, and him for even longer. When I first started developing symptoms, I thought I was completely alone, until I was able to confide in my parents and my father understood what was happening to me. The partner in crime I had had since childhood then also became my confidant, my advisor, the one person in the world who really understood what I was going through.
For my twentieth birthday, I got my second tattoo and my dad got his first. We drove out to Bondsville, Massachusetts and got matching snowflakes - meticulously drawn, to cater to our OCD. No two snowflakes are alike, but ours match identically. I am proud to call him my father and proud to call him my best friend, and proud to have this link that ties us together even when we are hours and miles apart.
I always have something that grounds me, something that reminds me that I am safe, and that I am loved, and that, even though it does not always feel that way, I will always be okay. This tattoo is my favorite of the ones I have, a talisman against the world, against my illness. No matter what you fear, there is someone who is your protector, someone who is your best friend, who loves you through your darkness. For me, that person has always been my father.
Tattoosday is way to demonstrate the storytelling quality of tattoos as well as the healing quality of tattoos.
If you would like to share the stories behind your ink, send us a picture of a tattoo or tattoos that have a significant story tied to your survival in life. Then write at least 400 words (you can write as many as you'd like) about the tattoo, it's meaning, and what it means to you today.
These stories will all run on Tuesdays!
One per week! So you have plenty of time to submit them to us!
The caveat with TATTOOSDAY is that we will not be making you a free piece of art, instead, your ink IS the art we will share with the story—which makes the most sense. BUT we will send you some stickers for sharing your story with us!