Day 86 – Tattoo Needles, Goat Tits, and the Land Hurricane

Thursday, June 5th 12:28p.m.

“Did it go in?”

“I don’t know, I can’t tell!”

I’m gripping a 5-point needle, dripping with black ink, partially submerged in my thigh. I can’t tell if I’ve managed to actually puncture the skin because there is ink running everywhere. My host is an experienced “stick n poke” artist, and she has provided me with a fresh tattoo needle, ink, rubbing alcohol and, most importantly, a tremendous amount of moral support to get me to this point. So there I am, sitting in her kitchen, trying to give myself a tattoo, and definitely not sure it’s working.

She takes the needle from me and gives me a few quick pokes. 

“There. It feels like that,” she says.

I’m surprised. It barely hurts at all. 

I take the needle back and begin going up and down my thigh. After a while all my hesitation melts away. It is significantly less painful than a tattoo gun, and I start to actually kind of enjoy myself as I sketch out a triangle, the mathematical symbol for constant change (which I just learned is also a symbol of the vagina and of fire, depending on its orientation). This is a reminder for me to always be open to changing my mind and my plans. It’s hard for me to get tattoos because I don’t want to attach myself to anything forever. But attaching myself to change seems safe enough!

That morning I was walking around in the bright orange short shorts I dumpstered in the Fort Collins college dumpsters, shiny red from a sunburn and sweating, but the night before I had watched as dark black storm clouds quickly descended on Lincoln, Nebraska. I was walking through town when I noticed that the streets had emptied, and that the temperature had dropped quickly. I had heard there might be a storm approaching, but hadn’t thought much of it because it was a beautifully sunny day. But I quickly picked up my pace and got back to the house I’m staying at just in time to sit on the porch and watch the storm come in. 

The sky was swirling with dark clouds, and soon it started to pour and large chunks of ice started raining down, loudly thudding against the roofs and streets. Potted plants were thrown from their porch perches by powerful winds, and the crew retreated inside to watch a movie as the storm raged around us. Storms are common in Nebraska this time of year, but this was one of the worst ones they’ve had, from what I’ve been told. I almost missed California weather but, hey, at least it’s raining here.

Anyway, by morning the storm was forgotten and the sun was beating down again. I finished my tattoo, which had turned into a triangle with a forlorn dot just outside its borders (oops!), and then decided to take one of my new friends up on her offer to come out to the farm she works at to milk goats. We drove just out of town to a beautiful farm that had clearly been ravaged by the storm the night before. Trees were toppled, their roots ripped out of the earth, and wooden structures had been blown over and landed hundreds of feet from where they had once stood.

I spent the evening petting baby goats, hooking their mamas’ teets to milking machines, sweeping up goat shit, and dancing to a summer tunes mixtape my friend had spent the day making. By the end of the evening my feet were sore and I was covered in shit, iodine, milk, and flies, but it felt great. If I moved to Nebraska, I could work on this farm and hang out with goats every day, and pay hardly anything for rent. It’s going to be hard to leave! 

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