Gambier Ink: Tattoos Around Campus, Part XIII


Henry Williams ’19:

“I work at a summer camp called Hidden Hollow near Mansfield. I started going there when I was thirteen, and I was having a really fun week. But at the end of the week, there’s a dance. This was the fifth week of the camping season, so the last week. At this particular dance, what I didn’t know, is that everyone starts crying, literally everyone. Naturally I too started crying, and I didn’t understand why. But nonetheless, I was crying, and it was a weird, cleansing kind of crying. So at the end, I felt compelled to go to the program director of the summer camp, and I asked him, ‘Mr. Casy, why am I crying?’ which, in retrospect, is a really dumb question, but I still asked him. And he told me that crying is just the soul asking for water.Over the course of the next two years as a camper and being a counselor for four years now has grown to mean quite a bit to me. So on my third year on staff, Mr. Casy came back to DJ the dance. So after we put all of our kids to bed, I went up to him and asked him if he could explain this thing he said to me.

He told me he was paraphrasing something he read in a book by an author named Khalil Gibran, a Lebanese poet from the 1930s, I think. He told me to read this particular poem called Of Joy and Sorrow in a book called The Prophet. The tattoo I have now is a portion of that poem, and a lot of the time people look at it, and I guess it is kind of cynical, but in the moment at summer camp, it seems that people cry because they’re so overwhelmed with happiness, and the thought of losing that happiness brings a very large amount of sorrow. But at the same time they are experiencing that happiness and they have experienced that happiness. Joy and sorrow don’t ever really exist entirely separate from each other, and in one there is always the other, though it may not be as prevalent.”



Cassidy Lu Jones ’16:

“In Harry Potter, on every page in the chapter heading, there are three little stars on either side. And Harry Potter’s an important part of my life, in terms of growing up.”


Shay Walczak ’20:

“It’s MOP– Mountain Beach Ocean Port. Me and seven of my friends got it before we left for college.”


Brandon Byrd ’18:

“I got it because my brother has the same tattoo. He’s in Italy and we’re both from Cleveland, so you know, Cleveland pride.”


Rachel Cohn ’19:

“I got it last summer, on the same day that my mom got one. Hers took ten minutes. Mine, I designed mine with this guy I had found in Atlanta, at this shop called Only You Tattoo. The artist’s name was Jake Wilkes. It took about an hour and a half, it was very painful, but totally worth it! I’m very glad I made the decision. It was kind of awkward because I didn’t know if I was supposed to make conversation or not, so I just sort of lied there for a while. I had been thinking of the design for five months before I got it, and I had been thinking about getting a tattoo for a couple years. Maybe it sounds kind of cliché, but after my first year of college I felt like I learned a lot about myself and had finally become honest with myself, just sort of transitioned into someone who was more mature, more focused on getting rid of bad habits. I wanted to put some sort of art on my body to remind myself to take care of myself and respect my body. The idea of having a circle was really important. Life isn’t really a linear progression, it’s more circular, and you can start anywhere. And if you fall off the track that you’re going on you can always pick yourself back up and keep going, things are in cycles. The phrase, “begin anywhere” is very inspirational. I’ve always like the images of sailing and the moon, so I really liked the image. Also, my favorite poet writes a lot about the metaphor of sailing, about life being a ship, navigating your way through the waters. It represents a mix of balance and peace and creativity.”

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