I sat next to Indy, lacing up my skates for a late-night beer league game when I saw the tattoo on his hand. CHEER UP it said. Unique, yet common in its sentiment.
Our team knows him as Ian. Ray’s brother. We only called him Indy when we wanted to fck with him, as most hockey chirpers know how to do so well. I was never a chirper myself, so I’ve never really called him that. To me, he was always the same soft-handed puck dangler I’d known from the squad.
But seeing that ink and hearing what it meant gave me a different perspective of who he was outside of hockey. It inspired me, even though he’s nearly 10 years younger than me. I was impressed, to say the least. So I did as I always do: I had to write about it.
“That’s cool man, I like that,” I say, pointing at it.
“Thanks dude,” he responds. “There’s actually a story behind it.”
“Oh, true. Is it personal? Can I hear?”
“Well,” he pauses to tape his shin pads, “when I dropped out of college, I didn’t tell my parents at first. I took a bus home from West Virginia, dreading their reaction the whole time. It was a long ride so I had a lot of time to think. So many things went through my head. I mean, shit dude. My mind was a whirlpool. Of course, I was worried about dropping out and what that meant for me financially. On top of what my parents would think of me, ya know?”
I nod my head, take another beer from the cooler, and start taping my stick.
“All I could think about was whether this was the right move or not. Leaving school to pursue music. Seemed like a risk, you know?”
“Did you doubt yourself?”
“No, not at all.” He crushes his beer. “I was sad. And scared. I’d never thought about taking something I loved and pursuing it seriously. Seemed impossible.” He stops to throw his jersey over his head. “Anyway, the song ‘Cheer Up’ by Skizzy Mars came on and there I was. On the bus, 180 mood shift. The light clicked on and I just knew.”
“That’s cool man. I dig that. A sign from the universe.”
“Definitely, definitely. So the day I signed my deal with Sony, I got this inked.”
I fist-bump him, inspired by the story. “That’s awesome dude!”
“Yeah man - a little reminder, you know?”
“Absolutely! That’s how all my ink started,” I say, pointing to some of my own tattoos. “Little things to remind me who I am and where I came from.”
“Yours are dope, dude. Way cooler than mine.”
“Thanks man. But don’t knock yourself. Yours has depth. Mine just got bigger and bigger as time went on. I’ve got plans for my whole arm, my ribs, and my legs too. But not as meaningful like that.”
“They’re addicting,” he blurts.
“Oh, without a doubt!”
Ian goes on to tell me he just bought a house in L.A. How he’s leaving that Saturday. How we have to come visit him out on the west coast. His eyes light up when he talks about the vision. The goals and dreams. The same way parents’ sound when they talk about their kids.
I finish taping my stick and slug what’s left of my Stella Artois. The inspiration spreads to my bones - from either the beer, the hockey, or the little tattoo on his hand. I could just feel it. It soaked into my heart, my crevices of soul. Something pushing on the inside of my ribs as if to remind me to follow dreams instead of dollars.
“You better come back to play the Pony,” I say, strapping on my helmet.
He glares at me, as if offended that I’d even think he wouldn’t. “Dude, of course. Know your roots! Your tickets will be at willcall.” He laughs.
“Hey, let’s get a win tonight, aye? Send you off in style.”
“Done,” he says. “3 goal limit, just pass it to me.”
Ian is a cool dude and I wish him all the success he can handle in this world. If he can inspire fans the way he inspired me, I know he’ll be seeing big places real soon.