Isabella Snow and Noah Nichols, who got matching tattoos to memorialize a crash they were in on their first date — and falling in love.

Isabella Snow and Noah Nichols, who got matching tattoos to memorialize a crash they were in on their first date — and falling in love.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere / Sun-Times

Chicago love story: Couple’s matching tattoos are about their relationship — and the crash they experienced on their first date

Isabella Snow and Noah Nichols, who live in Old Irving Park, got into a car wreck right about when they started falling for each other. Their tattoos are about all of that.

You know that symbol you see in cartoons when two characters collide, the one that looks like an exploding star and conveys a boom or a bang?

Isabella Snow and her husband Noah Nichols, who live in Old Irving Park, each has one as a tattoo — hers on her right wrist, his on his left forearm.

The tattoos stem from a very uncartoon-like collision, when the pickup truck they were in rear-ended a car in 2017 at Armitage Avenue and Clark Street.

But the meaning behind their tattoos goes beyond that accident, which happened on a stormy night while they were on their first date. They’re really about falling in love.

They’d first met a year or so before the crash. Nichols worked for an entertainment company offering live-band karaoke — you know, people singing along with musicians playing live. They were hired for a birthday party.

“It was a regular, nightly gig,” says Nichols, 29, who was prepared to step in to keep things going if nobody else was stepping up to the mic to perform. “I figured I’d be doing a lot of the singing.”

Snow — a student then at Elmhurst University majoring in musical theater with a minor in jazz studies — was a guest at the party for a family friend’s 60th birthday.

“I didn’t think I’d know a ton of people,” says Snow, who’s 27 and from Lake Geneva, Wis.

She decided to take a crack at Lorde’s song “Royals.”

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A Sun-Times series on the stories behind body art.

“He was across the room at the bar and had a cordless mic in his back pocket,” Snow says of Nichols.

He says, “I’d gone to the bar and heard her hit the main notes and whipped out the mic and started harmonizing.”

She says, “He’s about 100 feet away” and we began “walking toward each other” while singing. “It kind of kicked off the night. We were instantly having fun with each other.

“At the end of the night, the guitar player handed me his card and said, ‘Hey, do you want a job?’ ”

Nichols, who’s from Des Moines, Iowa, handed her his card, too — and quite “suavely,” she thought.

They ended up playing some events together, and there were “sparks.” But then Nichols moved back to Iowa for about a year because of family issues.


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Eventually, he made it back to the Chicago area for work and was being put up at a motel in Elk Grove Village.

That’s when Nichols and Snow decided to go out one night. They met at a bar in Old Town.

Some of her friends were there, too, she says, to be sure “he wasn’t a serial killer.”

With the friends satisfied all was well, the couple departed for Wrigleyville.

Nichols says: “It starts raining a little bit as we go down the road, going up to a red light. There’s a car in front of me” that “stops short. I hit the brakes and hydroplaned.”

Snow says: “It’s a bad crash. The airbags go off. He pushed the airbag out of my way so it doesn’t break my face.”

There was shattered glass all over. Things got hazy. They climbed out of their wrecked vehicle.

Snow says: “We’re, like, coughing. What is even going on?”

Nichols asked, “Are you OK?”

Then, “we kiss,” he says. First time.

The pickup was towed back to the motel. The tow driver “is rolling up a blunt as I’m paying him” and asks Nichols, “You want a hit of this?”

“I’m, like, ‘I need to deal with real life for a minute, I think I’m OK.’

“We’re in the parking lot, it’s raining, this date has gone horribly wrong. I look at Isabella and say, ‘I’m sorry, can we have a do-over?’ ”

She tells him, “We don’t need a do-over.”

They’ve been inseparable since.

And they got the tattoos to mark the unhappy collision of vehicles and the much happier collision of souls. The art syncs up nicely when they’re holding hands.

Isabella Snow’s and Noah Nichols’ matching tattoos go together nicely when they hold hands.

Isabella Snow’s and Noah Nichols’ matching tattoos go together nicely when they hold hands.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere / Sun-Times

“Honestly, that’s really the spot where we unconsciously knew we’d end up together,” Nichols says of the crash.

“That car crash was important because we were so real with each other right away,” Snow says.

They got married last October. And they’re still making music. They play in a band that Snow fronts.

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