One year and a storms a brewing

I’m typing this with a chihuahua on my lap and a thunderstorm to my left. Wheels of clouds roll in, lit up at random. As of yet its still just a dull distant roar, but there’s no doubt its coming to call tonight. The birds have all gone elsewhere and even the streets are silent of that most oblivious species,; us. The cicadas still hum though, their lives are too short for self-preservation, seven years spent in a hole in the dirt and a few short days to mate and die, whats a storm to these guys? They don’t know the difference, to them a huge rolling, flashing, terrifying thunderstorm might be no more remarkable than any of the million other things they had no notion of til they popped up out of the earth, broke the back of their exoskeletons open and flew on unfamiliar wings into an unfamiliar sky.

Eddie (the chihuahua) doesn’t seem to mind either, but he is not a big fan of thunder. In fact it would be true to say that in his own noble (yet fruitless) way he does battle with it, barking and running in circles at each rolling boom as if his teeny tiny little voice would frighten whatever terrible god or demon is up there. To be honest it looks like fun. When I was little boy and learned just a little bit of what electricity was and that lighting was a wild uncontrollable form of it I gained the irrational fear that If i were to use the toilet while a storm was over the house that lightning would strike, travel into the water of the commode, up my stream of pee and into my body blowing it apart. Somewhere in the attic of my mind I still get a quick involuntary twinge of fear when I have to pee during a thunderstorm.

There is a cooling wind that is driven before the storm like flushed birds in front of an army trampling brush before its inexorable movement. It feels nice and seems to be driving the muggy miasma that has coated and suffocated Pittsburgh for weeks now. It would have been lovely to feel this last night when our tattoo shop held a celebratory party for our having existed in the current location for a year. It was a wonderful low-key affair, lots of friends both  expected and unexpected showed up. Some bore good wishes, some wonderful useful Japanese art books (thanks Nathan),some bore beautiful hand crafted paintings for us (thanks Josh) and some brought wonderful antique iron mermaids (thanks Randy and Robin), but best of all they all brought themselves and that was the highlight (thanks everyone!) . It was drearily hot in our tiny shop, but we opened the windows, drank teeny tiny cans of soda, and crowded into Caras station to bask in the air conditioner as it did its tiny best to beat back the tide of humid grossness.

In one year so much has changed for us and yet in hindsight there is the clear markings of our small shop doing wonderful things. We have done away with wasted space, wasted neighbors, and wasted effort as we dropped all the pretense we could of being tough guys (we aren’t) or of being bitter (we aren’t that either) and our clients and friends have responded by blessing us with more than we could rightfully have asked for. It may be a business, but it feels more and more like a family as time goes on. Believe me when I tell you, if I could find away to make a living some other way, I would still tattoo these folks for free.

There are so many people who have helped us bring this baby to a year unharmed, and I deeply appreciate them all. At the very top of that list is my wonderful fiance Cara whose bravery, faith in me (even when I  had none) and unfailing eye for quality and kindness made what would have been just another half-assed Jason production into the Black Cat tattoos we have today. I have loved a few people in my life, but never so completely. Also a guy who seldom gets mentioned and yet is integral to how Black Cat functions is our shop manager Chris. Lots of people can clean and answer phones, but I don’t know of another who could do it while discussing Thoreau and contrasting Kerouac with Defoe and then breaking into a dead on Woody Allen impersonation. Now I know what they mean when they describe someone as their “right hand man”, I couldn’t do it without him.

The sky has really opened up and id hate to lose all this dribble to a power failure so I’ll just end by saying, thank you to everyone, I’ve been tremendously lucky to know each and every one of you, I don’t deserve you, but I’ll keep on trying to anyway.

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