In 2016, I got my first tattoo. It’s a small, black mountain range located on my left wrist, where I can see it. When I got my tattoo, I didn’t think of mountains as being “cliché.” I didn’t think I was being hipster. I was getting a tattoo of something meaningful to me.
2016 was when I found out my parents were moving from my home state of Colorado to Pennsylvania. It’s a move I knew was being planned, but had always been hypothetical until that point. The move made sense — my dad grew up in Lancaster County and both of my parents have family in the state.
I always expected they would move there, but I never thought about what the reality of it would look like. Suddenly my dad was interviewing for jobs and looking at houses. My parents were considering which city would be the best to live in.
Meanwhile, I was in my first year of college here at GC, working through what the move meant.
I’m a place-oriented person who hates change. My parents announcing their move wreaked havoc on my life for several months as I learned what it meant.
Would I be calling Pennsylvania home now? That didn’t feel right — Pennsylvania was the state I went to for Christmas to visit my grandma, not my home. Home was where my friends were, where I knew how to get places, where I had memories. Colorado was home. My sense of “home” was lost. It’s still something I wrestle with three years later.
Shortly after my parents’ announcement, I started to play with the idea of getting a mountain tattoo. While the design changed, the placement never did — I knew I wanted to see it. If I got one on my wrist, I could easily hide it if necessary, but I could also look at it when I needed to.
The mountains were something I always took for granted but loved unconditionally. I knew they were always to the west, adding shape to the horizon. I grew up going to summer camp, hiking, camping, looking at stars and skiing — all in the mountains.
As much as the city of Denver was a part of my sense of “home,” the mountains were too. Mountains represent Colorado and they seemed like the perfect tattoo.
After a few months thinking about the tattoo idea, I decided that yes, this was something I wanted. I found a parlor in Denver and set up an appointment. Coincidentally, my tattoo appointment was on the same day my dad flew to Pennsylvania to begin his new job.
I’ve been thrilled with my tattoo ever since. Three years later, I’m still happy whenever I see the mountains on my wrist. They give me a sense of comfort and remind me that Colorado will always be part of me, even when I don’t get the chance to be there. The tattoo reminds me that I have friends and loved ones in the state.
But it’s also come to my attention that mountains might be “cliché” as a tattoo choice.
I understand that. Mountains resonate with lots of people, regardless of where they grew up, and they can also symbolize a passion for the outdoors. It’s fine if people have mountain tattoos. Does it matter if it’s cliché?
My mountain tattoo will never be cliché to me, but that’s because I know the meaning of it. Chances are other people might have “cliché” tattoos that don’t seem cliché to them either.
However, there’s a stigma in our culture around not asking about tattoos because sometimes a tattoo doesn’t mean anything and therefore doesn’t need justification. Personally, I wouldn’t mind having a conversation with someone about my tattoo.
At the end of the day, I’m happy to have the reminder of home on my wrist, even if it might seem like a common tattoo to have. Because the mountains hold a deeper meaning for me, I’ll never find them cliché, and that’s the only thing that matters.