Tattoo #1 ~ Long Beach, CA ~ April 2016

I don't know how or when it happened, but somewhere along the line, my thirtysomething, inkless self decided it would be cool to document my travels on my skin. Maybe each tattoo will represent the trip, maybe they'll make reference to an experience, or maybe they will just be a cool design that I thought was appropriate at the moment. Whatever they end up being, they'll end up here with a little story to go along.

I had every intention of getting a Philly-based tattoo before starting this little project, but plans have a funny way of rarely working out. I had flown out to Long Beach to visit my good friend Katelyn, spend some time in LA, make a quick stop in DisneyLand, and eat a whole bunch of tacos. In the first few days of the trip, I enjoyed the Long Beach Museum of Art, the Aquarium of the Pacific, and tacos with my boss in East LA. Despite the (much needed) rain, I was having a pretty snazzy time.

On the Friday night of this vacation, Katelyn was telling the story of how she got her tattoo (some ocean waves on her thigh) while visiting Long Beach, musing that she had only recently realized that she ended up moving to the same town in which she first got ink. She jokingly suggested that I should get a tattoo at the same place, and it seemed like the right way to kick off the weekend.

I had been wanting to get a tattoo that encompassed my love for travel, and a look on Pinterest will give you plenty of wanderlust-themed tattoo ideas. For the longest time, I was set on getting a globe with a banner that said "wanderlust" on it, but on this night, just hours before it would be a permanent part of me, I wasn't feeling it.

As I scoured the internet for inspiration, I tried to think beyond wanderlust. What is it that I truly enjoy about travel? How do I experience new places? What is my preferred method of getting away from it all? From there, things slowly came into place. When traveling, I am a wanderer. I have no particular goal in mind, subscribing to the theory that a good traveler has no destination and is not intent on arriving. I much prefer exploring a new place by immersing myself in it, tourist attractions* be damned. I realized that this comes from a childhood full of camping trips and that time my class ditched our tour guide in Spain, choosing to meander about Madrid and hang in Retiro Park rather than schlep from scheduled tour to scheduled tour.

I decided to go in the camping direction, and quickly found this fantastic, yet simple, drawing of a campsite. I toyed around the idea of getting it in color, but Katelyn convinced me to stick with all black (a wise choice in the end). With the image selected, I was now struggling to find the right word to include. I love wanderlust, but it didn't feel right. I considered "Wander More," but still wasn't feeling it. At that moment, the perfect phrase popped into my head.

Calvin and Hobbes, the greatest comic of all time, has been a favorite of mine since I learned how to read. Sitting there on a cool, breezy Long Beach evening, I remembered how the comic ended. Calvin says to Hobbes as they prepare to sled down a hill, "It's a magical world, Hobbes ol' buddy. Let's go exploring!" There it was. The perfect tattoo to capture how I feel about travel, my love for camping, and my appreciation for Bill Watterson's art and writing.

The next morning, we headed over to Port City Tattoo for my first tat. After twenty minutes of little to no pain, Eddie's fantastic line work was on my arm and I had my tattoo. The instant I saw it in the mirror, I knew I made the right choice. It perfectly summed up everything I had hoped it would represent, and it looked amazing. Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos or videos of the action, but next time the process will be a little more documented. That being said, who knows when the next time will be? I don't have any travel plans on deck until next year, and, as always, I am poor and tattoos cost money.

*Except for Walt Disney World and DisneyLand. I'm a sucker for a Disney Park.

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Verb. 1) Pertaining to the behavior of being a Wittwer. 2) Doing odd things that only Wittwers would do. 3) Catchall phrase for the thoughts and actions of Patrick Wittwer.