I’m what I would consider a heavily tattooed person for Van Wert. I have exactly 20, most of them on my arms, and have no plans of stopping there. Earlier this week, I was reflecting on my very first tattoo – a set of lyrics on my right ribs.

I often forget about this tattoo because I don’t see it a lot. I got it a few weeks after my 18th birthday. I remember the experience well. I always knew I wanted a tattoo when I turned 18, but I went back and forth for weeks trying to decide what my first one would be.

At first, I wanted the blink-182 logo with lyrics from one of their songs. Blink has always been one of my favorite bands, and it would have been a tattoo I knew I’d always love.

At the time, I was in the midst of a terrible on and off again relationship. We had just broken up – again. So, I had it set in my mind that I would get the blink logo (a dripping smiley face with five arrows coming out of the circle) with the following lyrics, “Well, it’s happened once again, I’ll turn to a friend, someone that understands, sees through the master plan, but everybody’s gone, and I’ve been here for too long to face this on my own. Well, I guess this is growing up.” Those lyrics are from an early blink-182 song called “Dammit,” which was one of my favorites and summed up my situation at the moment pretty well.

However, a day or two before the tattoo, I changed my mind. Instead, I opted for lyrics from a local Fort Wayne artist, Jordan Witzigreuter, who plays in a band called The Ready Set. The Ready Set was my first official concert, and I had seen him play in an abandoned warehouse just months prior.

On a warm summer night after I turned 18, I got my first tattoo. It read, “Love is something that just can’t be bought or sold. It won’t come when it’s told; it only comes from the soul.”

At that moment in time, those lyrics from a song called “Soular Flares” meant a lot to me. Today, they don’t quite hold the same meaning, but I wouldn’t trade that tattoo for anything.

I’m often asked, “Do you have any tattoos that you regret?” The answer is simply, no. While I would never likely get those lyrics tattooed on me today, at the time they meant something special. They defined a period of my life. If I had to pick a first tattoo now, it wouldn’t be lyrics at all, but I’m glad 18-year-old me chose those specific lyrics by that specific band.

Back then, that tattoo was about heartbreak and trying to remind myself that I can’t force something. It was about trying to see something positive and hoping for better next time. Today that tattoo holds a much different meaning.

Now, it is a memory of a time of my life that I struggled through and came out a much better person from. It’s a reminder of my very first concert, and more than anything, it’s testimony to my love for local bands, smaller artists, and supporting the little guys.

Jordan still plays and tours as The Ready Set, and he’s still a very small artist. I admire that he’s from a town that I visit frequently and that is so close to Van Wert.

I did, however, have a period in my life where I thought about getting those lyrics covered up, but that no longer occurs to me. I’ve decided that they are a great testimony to my past, which helped to mold me into the person I am today. Be proud of the things that built you.

(PS: I do have the blink-182 logo on me now. It was a gift from my mom for my 21st birthday. I often have people ask me what it is or what it means. It’s on the backside of my right arm and is a tattoo I treasure. Now you all know the next time you see me in public that it’s a band logo.)