Before I left, I knew I would get a tattoo to memorialize this adventure. But it goes further back than that really. I knew for years that I would get tattoos to mark different phases of my life: my first one was about heritage, family, where I come from, and ultimately the first 22 years of my life; my second tattoo in Khao Lak was a bit less predictable but was still a meaningful life symbol – the evil eye has been important to and watched over me since I was abroad, when this crazy life goal of a year of travel first entered my mind, since what seemed like the end of childhood and a change to my solo adventures, from living in big cities to embarking on this trip. But it was never meant to be the symbol of the trip itself.
I never knew what shape that would take. I had ideas in passing, nothing I would commit to, until one day on the beach in Goa when it all clicked. India was my last stop, the itinerary complete, and here I was with my best friend talking about getting tattoos together. She wanted one for India and I wanted a symbol that would forever commemorate this moment. Like Khao Lak, the timing was perfect. I had to do it.
I didn’t want something obvious, like a compass or a world map; I wanted something slightly obscure but unique to me. I thought about my route. When I bought my flights, Indie generated a map of the path I would be taking. It was the backbone of my plan, and no matter where I went in between that line stayed in tact. It was the literal visual symbol of my 9 months.
Then I remembered the words. Here it goes. When Kwaz asked why those words, all I could think was to show her what I wrote in the Ho Chih Minh City airport, the first time I thought of getting them tattooed on me:
December 8, 2014. Ho Chi Minh City Airport.
“I thought of a new tattoo. I knew I wanted to commemorate this trip somehow but had put no pressure on myself to come up with anything. I figured it would come to me eventually, probably at the end. Then I reached a crossroads in Vietnam. As I sat in the Ho Chi Minh City airport waiting to board my flight to Hanoi, contemplating this rebirth of my trip, the phrase that came to mind again was: “Here it goes.”
This phrase was the title of my first blog post saying what I was setting out to do. It has been a constant phrase in my thoughts ever since, even if I had to edit it out of most posts so I wasn’t too repetitive. And in the moment I was about to start this new phase it again came to the front of my mind.
This trip continues and as it does it reveals itself to me along the way. So all I do is smile and think, “Here it goes.” The rest will work itself out.
I’ll think on this for a while, but those three words mean more to me than they seem. And they may just end up a permanent part of my body.”
Here it goes became my mantra, my philosophy, and my comfort. So I combined my backbone with my mantra, weaving the words into the line of my route: here in between the US and South America, it flying across the Pacific Ocean, and goes on the way to Asia. The three parts of my trip.
The line trails off after that, on the back of my ankle, not a definitive ending but a line that could continue on to anywhere on the other side. It wanders off like I am now, with no period at the end of the phrase, guiding me as I keep walking, right foot forward, towards the unknown next phase.