Content warning: The following story makes reference to suicide, which may be triggering for some readers.
"Zeus & Hermes," Rosie Heller
Many people think this is a Harry Potter tattoo. Totally valid misconception, and it doesn't bother me when that's what people assume. This tattoo-my smallest and least flashy and visible, is my most important. It's for my Zeus. I'll explain that right now.
When I was 11 years old I went to theater sleep away camp for the first time. I was cast in a stage adaptation of Disney's Hercules, for kids ages 7-11. Clearly this is where I peaked. I was cast as Hermes, the loyal attendant to the mighty Zeus, played by 10 year old, Andrew. We instantly connected, as two theater nerds do. We stayed friends, and we would always joke about when we were in our prime: Zeus and Hermes.
Andrew was magical because no matter who he met they were instantly drawn in to his witty and playfully cheeky sense of humor. Everything he said there was a twinkle in his eye where he made you feel like the most important person in the room, even when he was making a joke about you.
One day around the age of 13, he decided, and proclaimed in front of all our friends, that we were going to get married. This was on his birthday, which was the 4th of July. He then asked me non stop for a birthday kiss. I rolled my eyes and joked that he was "such a baby" and our recurring playful exchange was born. Every year on his birthday he would ask again, and remind me about our upcoming marriage. "Zeus and Hermes are destined to be together!" He would shout across the dining hall. The day would end with fireworks and a teasing kiss on the cheek from me, his faithful Hermes.
I had never heard a negative comment from him. He was funny, friendly, and committed to those he cared about and his passions. After graduating high school he went to a fantastic school in New York City and started working with organizations that helped the homeless, as well as continuing his passion of theater in college.
We would text and see each other now and then, and one summer, while I was 20 and he was 19, I decided to visit him in the city. Our summer camp days were over, but I had missed our friendship. We saw an improv show, got dollar pizza (his favorite), and drank Long Island ice teas at a bar where he knew the bartender. We talked about our lives and how simple they used to be back at summer camp, but how the future was exciting and unknown. When walking him back to his place, maybe it was the nostalgia or maybe the alcohol, but I felt compelled to kiss him. We did. It was friendly and comfortable. He smiled and said to me, "but it's not even my birthday!" We laughed, hugged, and went our separate ways.
A week later I got a call from a mutual friend that told me Andrew had committed suicide. Nobody had known, and it was sudden to everybody in his life. I was shocked and instantly began thinking about what I should have said or done when I saw him. Nobody knew he was struggling, but through his laughter and optimism he was hiding something from all of us.
The lightening bolt is for my Zeus. To remind me to stay optimistic, laugh, and positively affect those around me, just how Andrew did.
To Zeus, I miss you. I hope I'm making you proud. Love, your Hermes.
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!