August 5th marked my 35th birthday. Dan and I spent the day together doing many of my favorite things: a bike ride and brunch at Snooze, dinner at Lulu’s in Louisville, a shopping trip at Lush in Boulder, cheesecake at home while watching O Brother, Where Art Thou?.
The centerpiece of my birthday celebration, however, took place at Magnetic Tattoo in Fort Collins.
In my previous two tattoo sessions, I have been a walk-in client. This time I wanted to find someone whose art really resonated with me, so I have been stalking Instagram accounts for dozens of tattoo artists around Fort Collins. I was especially hoping to find a female artist, and with great luck I stumbled upon Cambria Pettit at Magnetic Tattoo. I instantly fell in love with all the various styles she has exhibited — for a few particular favorites of mine check out this mermaid or these mountains or this prism.
I had two tattoos in mind, so instead of debating them, I had them both taken care of at once. First, a custom design by Cambria: a ring of lavender and, if you look closely, a tiny bee.
This piece, located on the inside of my forearm, is a tribute to Dan. Ever since we purchased a house with lavender in the garden, I have been nuts about it — but both in Ohio and Colorado, it has been extremely difficult to keep alive. After a particularly hot summer in Cincinnati, no garden shops had any available… just ask Dan, who drove all over the city looking for it. Same here in Colorado, where our small garden receives immense amounts of sunlight… our lavender struggles, but Dan struggles harder.
If you’ve ever met my husband, you know he is quiet and keeps to himself. For the most part he’s the same at home, but every day he makes quiet gestures that speak much louder, such as his never-ending and uncomplaining battle with lavender.
My second tattoo of the day, a key, has been in the works for a few years. (In fact, when my good friend Amy saw a picture, she exclaimed, “You finally got your key!”) I am sure a key is the among the most basic white girl tattoos there are, but mine is a nod to my grandfather. Many of my memories of my grandfather revolve around keys; he had a side hustle as a locksmith and would often spend mornings sitting at the kitchen table dissembling one lock or another. He taught me how tumblers work and how to file the teeth of a key, and his garage walls were covered in pegboard and key blanks.
This month, my grandfather will have been gone for 17 years — I have missed him for longer than I had him in the first place. This tattoo is in his memory, and it made my birthday more special for having a chance to look back on our time together.
Though Cambria applied the tattoo, Dan is the one who designed it. Dan and Jay never met, but I know my grandfather would have loved my husband — they are both fixers, and good with their hands, and more about actions than words. I am thrilled they both have a new spot on my arm.