The Things I Came Here With
by Chris MacDonald
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Pub Date 18 Oct 2022 | Archive Date 02 Nov 2022
“Does it hurt?” When you’re a tattoo artist, that’s the most universal question. For Chris MacDonald, the answer is simple: hurts less than a broken heart. Those words are painted above the entrance to his shop, Under My Thumb Tattoos, as a reminder.
Chris and his brothers were as wild as the wind, in their house among the fields of Alliston, Ontario, when their parents divorced. Shell-shocked, they were uprooted and brought to Toronto by their dad. Their mother’s mental illness worsened in the aftermath, and she disappeared. As a teenager, Chris left home and found himself immersed in the city’s underbelly, a world where drugs, skateboarding, and punk rock reigned. Between the youth shelters, suicidal thoughts, and haunted apartments, a light shined: and it was art.
He eventually found himself following the path of his brother, Rob, and pursuing life as a tattooist. Then, at the height of a destructive summer, everything changed: he met Megan, the girl who would become his rock of ages.
This remarkable memoir examines what tattooing means to MacDonald and traces the connection his artistic motives have to both his family and childhood. The Things I Came Here With is about how crucial our past is to understanding our future, but it’s also a love letter to his daughter about the importance of expression, life’s uncertainty, and beauty.