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  • Writer's pictureDesi

The Stories Behind My Tattoos

Updated: Apr 14, 2022



I love all of my tattoos, I do. There are some that I wish I had a better vision of, but hey, you live and you learn. I don’t regret them though. Like everyone my tattoos all come with some sort of backstory, whether it be brief and funny or a longer, more detailed story. Either way they all have some resonance to myself and my personality. So let me entertain you for about 10 minutes and tell you the tales of my tattoos!

Let's begin shall we?!


 

I got my first tattoo(s) when I was 19. I was living with my brother in our first apartment on the northside of Chicago, near Armitage and Western. Prior to this I was contemplating getting a tattoo for yeeears! I couldn't decide on what to get but eventually decided on getting some script. My friend who had gotten tattoos from a tattoo parlor near by, offered to help me set up an appointment with the guy who did hers. Her and her boyfriend at the time came with me for moral support. This tattoo pays homage to a poetry slam piece I had written in high school. It was a piece about family and how I felt as though alcohol consumed it making me feel like our family was broken, but in the piece I talk about how strong I am/was to overcome it and build away from a life that was toxic. Therefore claiming myself "Beautifully Broken". This tattoo is right at the nape of my neck, more on the top of my back. I got it there because I was leaving the past behind me and also because it wouldn’t have looked right anywhere else.

That same day I also got "shhh" on my left pointer finger. It was a matching friendship tattoo that I got with another friend as we were inseparable at the time. I got it on my left pointer finger, she got it on her right pointer finger. At the time I was working at a restaurant where I was constantly washing my hands and needless to say… I wasn’t paying much attention to it, letting it peel before it was fully healed. My friend had the same issue. Finger tattoos are really hard to maintain. We learned our lesson. But it's a bond we will forever have to laugh about.





 

The next tattoo(s) I got, I didn’t get until years later, which was my Alice In Wonderland tattoos. Everyone who knows me knows I'm obsessed with Alice In Wonderland. So I thought I should commemorate that with a tattoo. I remember talking about it with my brother thinking "hmmm... where would I put it?" and he suggested putting it on my wrists. So I envisioned how it would look on my wrists and thought it would look cool there. I think in the next couple of days I called up my friend/ brother from another mother, Lalo, who was starting up his own tattoo shop and had been tattooing for a while and asked him to draw me the vile that said "drink me" and the pastries that said "Eat," "Take One" and "Try Me". I remember when it got them I thought I was such a bad ass. In all honesty, I thought I would cherish these tattoos forever. It wasn't until after I had my two kids when I started to slowly get over them. I don't regret them, but I have started to reconsider the placement. I'm a strong believer in tattoos don't define a persons work ethic but maaan, every interview I went on after getting those tattoos I had to make sure they were covered. I just didn't feel like explaining what it meant to those who didn't know Alice In Wonderland or those who were quick to judge the sight of a tattoo on a persons wrists.


 

My next tattoo wasn't long after my Alice In Wonderland ones and was a very randomly decided, out of the whim tattoo. I called up Lalo and asked if he was free to do a tattoo, he said he was and I was over there within the next 2 hours. That's when I got my Poet tattoo. This one was totally unplanned as far as design. I just felt like getting a tattoo of the definition of poet on my right bicep. My passion for writing started with me writing poetry, I felt it was only right to commemorate that. He freehanded the word poet and I wrote the rest, to which he tattooed on me. And that was that, though sometimes I forget it's there. But every now and then I'll look at it and remember where it all started. I also judge myself for not being sure if the word breakdown of the word poet is actually correct.



 

I took a break from getting spontaneous tattoos after that and was working on a memorial piece for my father who had passed away in 2009. It was 2012, and I was celebrating my 23rd birthday, my "Jordan Year" as it has come to be called. It took a while for me to decide on what to get. I knew I didn't want a portrait of my dad, I wanted something different. I remember playing with designs and creating rough drawings, and telling myself it has to make sense. I need this to be my best tattoo because it was for my dad. It had all came to me one night, my dad loved roses, he used them in his limpias, (his spiritual cleansing rituals), He also loved Rocio Durcal, a Mexican singer and his favorite song of hers was Amor Eterno, (Eternal Love). I roughly drew a sketch of roses and looked up the sheet music to the song and decided on my favorite line, "Prefiero estar dormida que despierta. De tanto que me duele que no estés." which means, "I'd rather be sleeping than awake because of how much it hurts that you're not here." I was still grieving him and it was how I felt, always asking him to visit me in my dreams. I then called my sister up and asked her to send me a card with his signature on it. She saved a lot of these things so I knew she had one. After that I worked with Lalo to get this piece exactly how I wanted it and on my birthday My Rose and Lyrics Dedication Tattoo was added. J came with me for moral support. This was one of my largest pieces at the time and it took about 3 hours, with outlining, shading, coloring. I remember at one point falling asleep, clearly my tolerance for pain is very high.


"My tattoos tell small parts of my story. They're images and words of moments in time that I want to remember forever." - Desi Gaitan
 

In July of 2010, a year after my father passed away, J and I had been together for a couple of months and I had found out I was pregnant. However, before I was 8 weeks along I had a miscarriage. It was heartbreaking to say the least. I'll write that story soon enough. After coping with the loss I wanted to create a memorial. That's where My Piece of Heaven tattoo came about. I placed it on both my Achilles, my left Achilles has a puzzle piece with "Jenna" written in Arabic, which means "Heaven". On my right Achilles is the date of my miscarriage in roman numerals (7.8.10). When people ask what the puzzle piece is for, I simply say "It's my piece of heaven." J also got a similar tattoo, his is of a puzzle piece as well, but it has his own meaning behind it.


 

When my 1st nephew graduated 8th grade, he wanted to make it memorable so, after we went out to eat we were all talking about getting tattoos. I can't remember how it came about but my nephew dared my mom to get a tattoo. He wanted her to remember this day forever, she was a little iffy but after I told her I'd get one with her she was on board! Mind you, my mom was about 55 at the time maybe a little younger. But just like that my nephews mom took both her and I to a tattoo shop and we both got our Double Infinity tattoos. We were obssessed with the show Revenge and that's what originally inspired it. Yes, what was supposed to be a tattoo to remember my 1st nephews 8th grade graduation turned into a day to get matching Mother Daughter Tattoos. the plan was for all the girls in the family to get one. My sister has yet to get hers. (Ahem, sistagirl. I know you're reading this.) We would like my nieces, as well as my daughter, when they are of age, to get the same tattoo as well. But they have to make that decision on their own. Their body, their rules.



 

I never took myself as being the "let's get matching tattoos!" kind of person but I guess I am all about matching tattoos. Because the next tattoo I got was with a best friend at the time. We would spend such a ridiculous amount of time together. I would come home from work or school and go straight to her house. I'd spend majority of my weekends with her and her husband. I didn't mind being the third wheel. So we decided to get matching tattoos. We deliberated what would really show our bond. Eventually we decided on our Matching Quote tattoo. My tattoo is along my left collar bone and says, "I'll be the anchor that keeps your feet on the ground." she got hers along the back of her shoulder that says, "I'll be the wings that keeps your head in the clouds." My tattoo represented what she was to me, the one that kept me grounded when all I wanted to do was daydream or think of crazy ideas. Her tattoo represented what I was to her, the one that kept away her stresses of the everyday, that made her think anything was possible regardless. It sucks to think that our friendship is no longer what it was anymore.

The downside of getting matching tattoos... sometimes things end and you're left with the memories.

That was my last tattoo for a very long time. That was more than 6 years ago. Well, considering not too long after that I had Adam and then Amira. Tattoos were the last thing on my mind.


 

It wasn't until this past birthday I turned 33, what I'm calling, my "Jesus Year", The year where you're supposedly reborn in a sense and start to follow your passion. I had decided I wanted a tattoo. 2020, the year of Covid, had put some things into perspective for me. In November of 2020 the family caught Covid and it was rough. It was still early in the pandemic and nobody really knew how to get it under control. That experience, is a story for another post. While quarantining though I started to connect more with myself and the universe. I started learning Tarot and all about the moon and how to work with it's phases. It's what got me to push through. So to commemorate that milestone in my life I got a tattoo for my 33rd birthday. It is of hands, one above and one below with the eye in the middle. The eye wards off evil, or negativity. The hands represent the saying "As Above, So Below." which can be interpreted as "The actions you take in your physical form can have an effect on your spiritual form." The moth was decided, a little last minute.

Long story short...

I was at the cemetery visiting my father for his birthday and I was really going through it, mentally. I asked him to send me a sign of what I needed to do and I literally said I needed it to slap me in the face, because I was feeling like I was just not seeing the signs and synchronicities. And I want to say maybe a day later, I was walking into my bathroom when a huge moth flew right into my left eye. To say I wasn't scared and grossed out is an understatement. I panicked especially when I noticed there wasn't just ONE moth, there was THREE moths in the bathroom. One small one was on the ceiling with it's wings spread out not moving at all. The other two were flying around me, as though they were trying to keep my attention. After I calmed myself down, I started to realize that I asked for this. I asked for something to slap me in the face. So I went to my phone and googled the spiritual meaning of a moth. I read that it represents transformation, shadow work and psychic abilities, they help you discover your hidden desires and awakening your true self. So I took that as a sign and added that to my tattoo idea. This tattoo I call The Awakening. It's probably my second favorite piece, my first being the one for my dad. I've been trying hard to work on myself ever since.


 

My most recent tattoo was done out of spontaneity. We recently went to Colorado, and on our last day I originally dared J to get a tattoo, (he's such a wuss when it comes to tattoos) but he agreed he would get something small, we had a flight to catch after all. So, he decided he wanted to get two A's on his wrist, representing our kids Adam and Amira. Then he had the nerve to ask me if I wanted one. I mean I had 11 tattoos already, you think I didn't take the offer?! So I also got two A's on my right wrist representing my babies. It literally took no more than 10 minutes but it is a memory of a perfect ending to an amazing trip.


And that's it. I have 12 tattoos total... and planning on getting more. My tattoos tell small parts of my story. They're images and words of moments in time that I want to remember forever.


Lalo, if you happen to be reading this... I will be booking an appointment soon enough. I still want to add to my left arm! Haha!

Just to humbly push business to him, if you are thinking about a tattoo or already have one in mind, I highly recommend my friend Lalo. My tattoos are proof of his work over time and he has been doing such amazing work now and his prices are reasonable, hey, you get what you pay for and his work is worth it. Send me a message if you live in the Chicago area and would like his info, I'd be happy to share it with you!

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