Although admittedly not an overly religious person, Laura Esposito has seen and experienced enough in her life to hold her faith. She describes herself as spiritual, with strong ties to the Archangel Saint Michael, the Catholic patron of sickness.
Laura is College Avenueâ€™s beloved Editor-in-Chief, a soon-to-be Colorado State University graduate, and a tattoo fanatic. While she would love to be covered in ink, she has so far reserved only special pieces of art to be imprinted forever on her body as personal reminders, tributes and inspiration.
The first tattoo she got was during the summer in between high school and college. â€œI had a lot happen that summer, and I always liked tattoos, but so much had happened that I felt like I needed a stronger way to document my experiences than just my memory,â€ she said. â€œMy first oneâ€™s a little cheesy,â€ she admits, â€œbut I will love it forever because it symbolizes where I was at the time.â€
The most significant tattoo Laura bears, in her opinion, is a rose with a necklace over her left shoulder blade. This particular tattoo marks an important journey, and serves as an â€œaccountability pieceâ€ in her life.
â€œI had been planning that one for I think over a year, by the time I actually got it. In 2010 a couple of friends and I started a program together to get in shape and feel better about ourselves and get healthy,â€ she said.
Her entire family struggles with health issues, namely diabetes. Most of them have accepted their fate, so to speak, but Laura refuses to conform to this unfortunate pattern, because â€œthatâ€™s not the kind of life that I want.â€
On the verge of having diabetes herself, Laura immersed herself in to her weight-loss program, and was successful.
â€œI threw myself in to turning my life around, and I ended up losing a significant amount of weight. Thatâ€™s when I started planning my tattoo. That was going to be my reward for when I finally made it to the end. To symbolize how beautiful I felt on the inside, I could show it on the outside.â€
From the onset of planning how to celebrate reaching her goal weight, she knew of one thing she couldnâ€™t live without. â€œI knew I wanted a rose, because I just think theyâ€™re the perfect icon of beauty and grace and thatâ€™s just everything that I wanted on me,â€ she said.
She describes being on a first date, at the Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art, when she happened to turn around and find what she was looking for: a depiction by Ansel Adams of the beautiful flower through a stormy windowpane. â€œThere it is right there, thatâ€™s my rose!â€ she remembers saying.
â€œI just knew, and pieces just kept falling together like that. I found my rose . . . and then a few weeks later I had a really awful nightmare about my dad in the hospital.â€
â€œMy dadâ€™s been sick for a really long time,â€ she explained, â€œand when I graduated high school he gave me a pendant. Over a hundred years old, itâ€™s from my great-great grandmother and it had Saint Michael on the back.â€
Inscribed on the pendant are the words â€˜Who is like Godâ€™ in Latin, and on the back it reads â€˜Saint Michael Defend Us in Battle.â€™
Laura continued, â€œI started doing some research on him and found out that heâ€™s the patron saint of the ill . . . he was the closest arch angel to God, and he had Godâ€™s healing powers.â€
As another piece fell in to place, and the significance of the pendant grew, Laura knew she wanted to include the pendant in her tattoo somehow.
A week following the disturbing dream and just shy of her final goal weight, she asked her father to accompany her to receive her work of art. â€œI really wanted him to be a part of that experience,â€ she said.
Esposito describes her year-long journey of choosing her piece as a â€œvery powerful experienceâ€ and believes that every tattoo should have meaning to its owner, as her ink does. The finished piece includes a deep red rose with a necklace engraved with â€˜Who is Like Godâ€™ from her pendant wrapping around it.
â€œThe rose symbolizes how beautiful I felt after losing the weight, and all the petals symbolize how many pounds I lost,â€ she said. Laura plans on extending the rose each year she holds true to her promise to stay healthy.
Finally, she chose to place the tattoo on her left side – where her heart is – for her dad.