My first tattoo: Constellations

I can’t explain how I felt on that plane from Brisbane to Los Angeles, just what I felt: I needed to be elsewhere. On the one hand, I felt more at home in Australia than I had in years. On the other, I felt like I belonged in refugee camps in Greece, as if I had a divine calling. When thinking about Greece and Australia, I realized I also needed to see family in the U.S., to take care of health issues and start living a stable life. Those were the three places I needed to be.

On the flight back from Australia I woke up somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. I peeked out the window expecting to see the sun and instead saw the Southern Cross constellation in all its brilliance.

Australia was the first place that year where I hadn’t felt like a visitor. I already missed it. I would miss seeing the Southern Cross at night. I thought about the cross’ symbolism on the Australian flag, its use by mariners to navigate the open sea hundreds of miles away from anything. Before too long I would be seeing the north star instead, used by similar people for the same purpose. Should I follow the north star back to family or the southern cross back to belonging?

No Trigger’s song, “Department of the Interior,” buzzed from my headphones and broke my concentration. Tom Rheault’s raspy vocals became clear for one line: “Constellation: Which one should I follow?”

I didn’t know.

After a month in the U.S., the answer didn’t become any clearer. In fact, the picture became more blurred. In addition to belonging in Australia, Greece, and the U.S., I wanted more than anything to live in Chile. I had started talking to an ex-girlfriend, the perfect human being who I had already moved across the world once to be with, and we decided we should give it another shot. We talked about the logistics, of where to move and what we would do, and realized Chile was the only place that would work.

Chile or the U.S.? Greece or Australia? I didn’t know whether to chase the north star or the Southern Cross. I constantly listened to No Trigger, one lyric stuck in my head:

“Constellation: Which one should I follow?”

I didn’t know. I may never know.

I cleaned up line for clarity and headed to a local tattoo shop, immortalizing the line on my bicep so I’ll never forget the simultaneous senses of confusion and destiny I feel.


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