“I’ve Been Meaning to Show You”

Jessica Bourget’s tattoo featured in these photos is one she designed herself. Her tattoo artist was Tate Dean of X Body Art Emporium, Swansea, MA.  The tattoo is in honor of her Dad, although he hasn’t known about it –until now, through these photos and Jessica’s writing, which follows. She has chosen this way to reveal the tattoo because, if you think about it, a tattoo can be kind of a tricky thing to reveal to your Dad. A tattoo can have so much meaning, that it can be hard to reveal it.

In 2014, I moved back to Rhode Island from Hawaii after a heart wrenching breakup. I had started partying a lot- going above and beyond sometimes- staying out till 6am. It was the only way I knew how to block every disgusting piece of sadness and anger I felt. I was pissed- the guy I loved didn’t love me anymore, and I felt completely lost. A few months later was the time when I found out my dad had been diagnosed with throat cancer. I remember the day he told me- we took his boat out in the bay for a sunset cruise and had a picnic on the boat with my stepmom. I was left in complete shock- my throat closed and I was at a complete loss for words. I blacked out and started to cry, pacing back and forth in the cabin.

My best friend since the day I was born- the greatest man in the world had been presented a diagnosis that I couldn’t fix. I felt helpless after all the times he had helped me I could do nothing. My dad has been a sailor for an extravagant amount of time, and all his philosophies and passed down wisdoms are always beautiful correlations to the ocean and its power that is untamable. One of my favorite things that he has ever told me is that…. No matter how lost you feel in the world, whenever you feel like you can’t go forward, and every storm is knocking you down and every tide seems to be drowning you- you will never be alone- you have your internal compass that will always point you in the direction you need to go. That compass will bring you to safe harbors. That safe harbor is home and with family. He gave me a beautiful compass for my birthday one year so that I could always carry it with me as a reminder. Yet, the sentimental value of the gift made me feel as if it would be safe from harm tucked in my memory box at home.

So one fine summer day, laying on the beach with a glass of wine I started to draw. I had no idea what it would come out to be but my hands drew such an abstract design that resembled every mixed up, and fucked up thought that was racing through my head daily. The designs symbolized the maze of my mind, and on the outside of the maze laid the four directions I needed to get out. I still had that compass to guide me home. I designed this tattoo so I could carry the strength my father has given to me all through the years. He has no idea I got the tattoo for him and I hope by him seeing this he will know that no matter how down, confused or scared he may feel, that my gut feelings are pushing away this storm and that I feel completely optimistic that something will cure him. Stay strong Pa, I love you so much. This one’s for you!