Here’s the fifth story in our series “For the Love of Tattooing, the Transformative Tattoo”, that we are presenting with our good friends over at openoureyes.org. To learn more about this series, check out our introduction blog here. We hope you enjoy!.
One of my most vivid first memories I have is based in the emotion of anger. In my memory, I am sitting at the edge of my mother’s bed, her lifeless body hanging over the side, an arm hanging over next to me. I am clenched in fear, having just shook her body, attempting to wake her up from what I didn’t realize at the time was a self inflicted attempt at an ending of her pain. I remember frantically dialing the numbers for the only phone number I knew, my best friend Scott. As he answers, what should be a childlike conversation between two 6 year olds begins with me saying, “Scott, my Mom is won’t wake up, what do I do?” He quickly handed the phone off to his babysitter, and she walked me through calling the police. From there everything speeds up in my mind. Like a scene in a movie I sit in the center of the room while the world quickly moves around me. Paramedics come in, taking her body, and eventually reviving her. In a room full of chaos, I found myself alone and angry.
From the moment I first met Robert Waldrup I felt we had a kindred spirit. Robert has a passion in his voice, a way of speaking that is almost song like, causing you to want to listen and be inspired by his words, which I immediately was. Our upbringings were similar, marred by divorce and isolation. Robert had an intense relationship with anger, one that I knew so well. Robert used this emotion to begin researching and working towards the ideals of social justice. We bonded on the history of the Black Panther Party, resistance movements through history, and the ideas of standing up for the oppressed cultures and peoples whose voices could not be heard. The radical movements of the 1960’s had a quote that was consistently repeated, “If you aren’t angry then you aren’t paying attention.”
In the years since my first vivid memory of anger I have learned the power anger carries, and the ability it can have to isolate the carrier. In Robert I found a brotherhood, an encouragement, and bond in an emotion marred with pain. The power Robert commands from his anger, the way he can redirect it and use it for social justice is inspiring, and most importantly for myself, it reminds me that I will never be that alone child trembling in fear next to a lifeless body.
Robert explains this relationship, its complications, and its ties to the tattoos he wears that we have created together for so many years now. Click here to read on.