A young Sydney W. was born to endure days of great joy and days of exhaustion. Surrounded by a family that knew how to embrace both the complexities and simplicities of this life, they allowed her to lean on them and learn from them without fear or judgment. She just didn’t know this yet.
Throughout elementary school, where others played 4-square and caught bugs on the playground, Sydney had bullies. Tormenting and abuse incited depression at an age when some of her friends still hadn’t lost all their baby teeth. She spent most of her days attempting to match the attitudes of her peers.
She kept her head down and her act up. That is, until one day in high school when this mask came crashing down in her high school counselor’s office. Her counselor called her father to let him know what had happened. He picked her up from school. On their family room coach, she learned how to lean on her family. One by one her family members came home. One by one she invited each of them to hear her story.
Sydney’s first tattoos rest on either side of her pelvis. Two quotation marks to commemorate the first discussion in which she allowed herself to be vulnerable and trust her family and friends.
Don’t forget what I said about great joy! Sydney cherishes her life and its intricacies. Her family played a vital role in developing her curiosity and bravery. Grandma and Grandpa kept her busy. Grandma was known for her gardening. She could grow anything, except for in one spot in her backyard where nothing could grow. Her solution: a cactus. Towering over small Sydney’s head, she made sure to keep her distance. But Grandma knew she couldn’t do that forever.
“She Jedi-mind-tricked me into moving closer to the cactus each time we worked in the garden until I was close enough to reach out and touch it” says Sydney.
Until the day Grandma gently guided her hand along the spine. It didn’t hurt at all. Sydney isn’t so afraid anymore.
If she wasn’t with Grandma, there was a good chance she was fishing with Grandpa and her boy cousins. She may have feared cacti, but a couple of boys were no scarier than a patch of dandelions. As they were setting up one day, Grandpa leaned over and whispered,
“you can out-fish these guys any day.” She can. She did.
Sydney picked out a cactus tattoo and a fish hook tattoo to remind her of her grandparent’s lessons in patience and bravery.
If you ask Sydney’s mom, she’ll tell you that when you ride with Sydney she will always search for new adventures. From trying sushi to spontaneous tattoos. Yes, Mom and Sydney went out for matching tattoos per Sydney’s idea. Besides, they had nothing else to do that day. Together they picked matching “love.” tattoos.
Love. Sydney’s (occasional) nickname. Love. The greatest one-word advice she had ever received. Love. The word that is always, always repeated three times when her mother says, “I love you love you love you.”
Her last tattoo honors two other essential facets of Sydney’s life: faith and music. A sheep on her left arm holds many memories. The day she accompanied her friends for their first tattoos and piercings and unexpectedly ended up with a new tattoo. Listening to Mushroom Moon by Bonelang. The Parable of the Lost Sheep in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Her sheep is shaded in black, for her own individuality. New York is a spunky city because it consists of everyone who has considered themselves to be the black sheep of their hometown.
Sydney continues to open up dialogues, dropping Easter eggs of wisdom for strangers and acquaintances. She continues to learn and collect tattoos that carry the marks of her greatest loves, adventures, and victories.