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Column: You know tattoos are permanent, right?

Photo provided by Madalyn Mirallegro

When I initially stated that I wanted a tattoo, the first thing people told me was “you know tattoos are permanent, right?” 

The sentence always came off as judgemental. It was like I was making a mistake to put art on my body and I needed to think more critically about what I was planning.

Despite the constant questioning from others, I followed through with my decision and now have two tattoos, with two more planned for the very near future. Here’s a quick rundown.

A dedication for my grandma

I had always planned to get my first tattoo the summer after I turned 18, but I was struggling to come up with a meaningful design that I would be happy with forever. 

My grandma got sick in the beginning of January 2021 and when she passed, I realized what I wanted

Tattoo done by John Shragal at Blue Collar Tattoo in Plainfield, IL.
Photo by Daustin Perez

Growing up, there was a pink magnolia tree that sat outside of both of our rooms that we watched over together. She had also written me a birthday card when she got sick, so I worked with my tattoo artist to incorporate both items into my tattoo.

We decided on a pink magnolia flower branch with her handwritten signature resting on the stem on my inner left bicep.

Now, every time I look down at my arm I can remember my grandma with a masterpiece that will last forever. 

“The Night Circus”

“The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern is my favorite book of all time. The way that Morgenstern writes about the magical circus makes readers feel as though they are inside of the pages. 

Tattoo done by John Shragal at Blue Collar Tattoo in Plainfield, IL.
Photo by Daustin Perez

But the excellent writing isn’t what made me want a “Night Circus”-themed tattoo. What made me want the tattoo is the group of characters that called themselves rêveurs, which translates to dreamers in French. They followed the circus around and wore red scarves to show that they were a part of the same group. 

When first reading – and with my many other re-reads – I felt connected with this group of dreamers, so much so that it inspired me to start writing. Without this book I wouldn’t even be working for The Scout, which is why I got my tattoo of a black and white tent with the word “rêveur” to show other dreamers I’m one of them.

The myth of Icarus’ fall

Growing up, I was always a fan of Greek mythology, and that hasn’t changed now that I’m older. I was always taught in my literature classes that Icarus was a fool for flying too close to the sun, but I disagree. Icarus was a dreamer. 

He wanted to experience the freedom in his life, and when he got the chance he took it. In his last moments he was able to be close to the sun, just like he dreamed of. 

If that makes him a fool, then so am I. Like Icarus, I want to live my life to the fullest extent. I want to travel and see the world in the future, which is why I plan to get an Icarus-inspired piece on my left forearm to mirror my other dreamer tattoo. 

The Mirallegro family sword

My dad is a huge fan of vikings. He even has two tattoos inspired by viking mythology. He was also the person who encouraged me to get all the tattoos I wanted as long as I had planned them out in advance. 

Being an only child has made my bond with my family even stronger, and that is why I plan to get matching viking sword tattoos with my dad on my right inner bicep to mirror my grandma’s tattoo. The tip of the sword will be pointing towards my hand with our last name, Mirallegro, going down the blade. 

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