On Wandering and Wondering and Wings (the story of my new tattoos)


It’s no secret that I have trouble staying still.

In the last two years I’ve moved to Liverpool, then back to Nashville, then to NYC, then back to Nashville, and I’m now getting ready to spend a full month abroad again, first in Edinburgh (to see if I’d like to live there) and then on a whirlwind trip through Austria, Prague, Germany and France for research purposes.

I have a case of wanderlust. But it’s not limited to travel.

I struggle just as much to sit still in my skin. Not a day goes by that I don’t wonder where I’d be if I’d chosen differently at any one of the dozen intersections over the last few years. Not a day goes by that I don’t fidget, or open a new word document and jot down ideas for a book I’m not writing, or click through the dozens of browser tabs on my computer, searching photos and music and any other stimuli I can find to calm my mind.

I say that I can’t sit still and be still at the same time. When my body is still, my mind is a tangle of limbs, tripping over itself. When my body’s in motion, it’s the only time my mind begins to still, and calm, and clear enough for me to think.

Because of this, I spend most of my life in motion. Propelled by the need to be both still and moving. Given the time I have been known to walk more than 10 miles a day (I would probably do more but the remnants of a childhood injury prevent it, and protest the distance I do go).

The last few months I’ve struggled mentally and a large part of it has been that I haven’t had the time to move–not travel, but simply get up and walk, run, swim–as much as I needed to. I was trapped in a chair, and my thoughts got too tangled.

Today I got two tattoos, wings both, one behind each of my anklebones.

The wings are of course a nod to the god, Hermes, messenger between the mortal and the divine, and protector and patron of writers (some believed he transported creators from the realm of the mundane to the inspired).

But the wings are also a reminder to move (as much as they are an acknowledgement of my ever-present, bone-deep need to do so). I feel compelled to move, but I also feel thankful for the compulsion. Without that constant motion, that desire, I do not think I would be a writer.

I need to move.

Moving and creating are, for me, inextricably tied.

And sometimes, I need a reminder.

Now I have two.*



*These are not my first tattoos. That fact seems to surprise some people. They are technically my third and fourth.

I got my first tattoo when I was 18 (that was the year I graduated from my all-girls school, got cut off all my hair, went skydiving, and got picked up for hitchhiking in France). My first tattoo is an eye of Horus (not the same thing as an eye of Ra).

My second tattoo I got two years later. It is aut viam inveniam aut faciam, which basically means “Either I will find a way or make one.” Except I was in a rush get this tattoo and it has a typo, the last word spelled facium instead. I could probably logic my way into the misspelling as thematically apt, but the fact is it was a mistake. Despite a perfectionist nature, I decided to keep it as a lesson to myself not to rush into things.

Which is why it’s been five years since I applied any permanent ink to my body.

14 thoughts on “On Wandering and Wondering and Wings (the story of my new tattoos)

  1. Shari Green says:

    Very nice, Victoria! I love hearing the stories behind people’s tattoos. 🙂

  2. Katie L says:

    I loved Edinburgh. I imagine you may too. I am restless, but haven’t learned to move yet. I’m only just starting to let myself BE restless. Previously, I’ve told myself that I couldn’t be because well, I needed to SETTLE, that’s what you did in your 20’s you SETTLED, and that’s what I’ve been told I need to do. But I don’t want to settle. I’m letting myself not settle. It’s a process.

    As for the spelling error, my friend studied in Kenya and brought me back a bunch of intricately beaded jewelry from the tribe she lived with during her time there. They weave a mistake into every single piece of jewelry to remind us that imperfections are natural and still beautiful and the world, and the piece, do not end at the imperfection. I’ve always loved that, and I imagine that tattoo spelling error is similar.

    Congrats on the new tattoos and good luck in your travels!

  3. Becca says:

    I think they are lovely! I adore mythology so I think the nod to the messenger god is apt. I’ve been working on ideas for my next tattoo, I have two so far, first one first after my 21st birthday and the second one about 2 years later from that. My first is an Awen symbol on my wrist, a Celtic symbol for poetic inspiration. The second was one I got with my sister, we both got the quote from the Little Prince (You are responsible, forever, for the things you have tamed) Mine is on my shoulder blade, her’s on her ribs and she got her’s in the original language of the book, French, since she’s studied French and always loved the language. I just love the message of the quote, that we are responsible for our actions and whether we like it or not those actions effect other people and we have to be aware of that.

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

  4. Anabel says:

    Nice INK! 🙂

  5. Wow. That’s a really great meaningful tattoo. I really love when there’s a story behind the ink. I have three tattoos. My favorite is my Harry Potter “Always” tattoo. The HP series was what started my true love of reading back when I was thirteen.

    And I have such wanderlust, but I’ve never left the US. Maybe that’s why I’ve moved across the country three times. You’re adventurous and creative spirit is pretty inspiring. :]

  6. bhwrn1 says:

    Wow, you don’t sit still, stand stil, or be still with your words. I love it all! Great tattoos. Absolutely love the idea!

  7. Kiersi says:

    Eeeyy! Cute wings. Simple, minimalist, classy.

  8. tawney13 says:

    they are so cute!!! I love to travel too. Went to Australia and England. But my favorite is the beach. I want to get a tattoo but i am afraid it will hurt

  9. Tara says:

    I love Edinburgh. I love everywhere because I cannot stay in one place, but it is such a fantastic city. It is small and lovely and old and creepy and basically everything you could want.

  10. Michael says:

    Awesome tattoo Victoria. I want pics of the other ones. =]

  11. I love the tattoo! It’s perfectly symbolic and very classic (at least to me) 😉

  12. Kelley says:

    I love the meaning behind these tattoos! They seem like the perfect symbol for you.

    Depending on the font, you could possibly change that u into an a (facium to faciam), no? Although, I also like that you kept is as a reminder not to rush into things. So much meaning in the things we do to ourselves! 🙂

  13. I like them. They’re simple and yet elegant.

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