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  • Writer's picturealaurafilbin

9 June 2022: Once Upon a New Tattoo

Much to my father's disappointment and my delight, I got another tattoo on June 5th as an early birthday present to myself: the music box from Anastasia.

The 1997 animated film was one of my favorites from my childhood, unique from Disney with stunning animation, a fantastical plot, enthralling characters, a swoon-worthy romance, gorgeous music, and a fascinating connection to one of the biggest mysteries of the twentieth century: what happened to the grand duchess Anastasia?

Of course, both the film and the Broadway musical inspired by it take some liberties with history.

Anastasia was, sadly, assassinated along with the rest of her family during the Bolshevik revolution in 1918. There were, however, women who claimed to be the lost Romanov (the most famous may be Anna Anderson), which was a clear inspiration for Anya's story.

But why get the music box?

Well, aside from my fascination with Anastasia Romanov and Russian culture/folklore/history, the film was a message of hope.

Sure, the music box plays "Once Upon a December", but my brain keeps coming back to the opening lines of "Journey to the Past":

Heart, don't fail me now, Courage, don't desert me, Don't turn back now that we're here

And, of course, some later lines in the song:

One step at a time, One hope, then another, Who knows where this road may go? Back to who I was, On to find my future, Things my heart still needs to know

When I see the music box, I think of the hope Anya carried throughout her journey, how it requires bravery to pursue one's dreams, of the courage to pursue love in its many forms, the importance of family.

This tattoo represents more than just my love for a movie. It represents who I want to be: a woman who pushes through her fears and insecurities to accomplish what she sets her heart on.

Currently, my heart is set on a few things:

  1. Finish Sugared Charades and self-publish, officially becoming a published author

  2. Move into my own apartment

  3. Acquire more tattoos

  4. Attend as many concerts as my schedule, wallet, and energy allow

  5. Travel

A list that may continue to grow, as one is wont to do.

I'm grateful for the permanent reminder of my childhood and of the woman I'm trying to be. Sorry not sorry, Dad.

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