Posts Tagged ‘Temple Burn’

It Was The Best of Times

September 10, 2022

It was the worst of times.

This Burning Man was the best and the hardest and the most magical and connected and hottest and Jesus fucking christ on a pogo stick, the worst entry and exodus I have had.

And.

I can’t wait to do it again.

Next year I will have all the things.

And do many of the things differently.

First.

No more tenting.

I’m figuring out a better way.

I just can’t do the dust coffin again.

I’m too old, and frankly, for the first time, truly ever, I can afford better accomodations.

I’m not saying I’m about to go out and buy an Airstream.

But I think I can swing a little camper trailer.

This burn I literally put up and took down my camp three times.

It was a disaster.

Fortunately.

I had a lot of lovely neighbors at my camp help me out.

And that was a learning lesson in humility.

I do not like asking for help.

I like helping.

I am really fucking good at helping others.

But asking for help?

Not so much.

I had to ask.

And ask a lot more than I was comfortable with.

I also had no choice.

Like.

When I got sick and had to go to the medics.

I had severe heat exhaustion, vomited, had hideous stomach cramps, dizziness and lightheadedness.

I knew I wasn’t doing well, but until I threw up I thought I was muddling along ok.

This literally happened my first day.

I still can’t believe I wound up in the medical tents on the first day I was there.

And thank god I let myself be taken.

I joked that my first “gift” on playa was a bag of fluids.

But really, thank God.

I didn’t realize how sick I was until I was in the tents.

And the beautiful, sweet people who took me there and sat with me there and helped me get back to camp were angels.

The next day I got to experience a playa miracle when a person who I barely knew magically provided a new tent for me.

Oh, wait, I left that part out.

In a nutshell, I land on playa Friday night at midnight, in a white out dust storm, Gate is closed, I sit for four hours before I finally get to Will Call to pick up my ticket and vehicle pass.

Then I spend an hour finding camp because none of the signs are up and I keep missing it.

Find camp around 5a.m., sit on the corner waiting for anyone to stir to find out where I am located, around 6:30a.m. some folks start getting up, figure out where I’m supposed to be camp, get somewhat situated, connect with the friend I’m setting up camp with, help him get settled and get shade structure up, start to get worried around noon as I haven’t gotten my own tent set up and it’s getting hot and I feel a dust storm coming (enough time on playa you can sometimes sense that shit in the wind), unravel may tent and start crying.

The “upgraded” new tent I had splurged on was a mesh top.

OHMYFUCKINGGOD kill me know.

I bought a dust coffin.

But with no other options.

I set up said dust coffin.

Storm sets in.

Sequester in dust coffin, try to nap, in a my dust mask and goggles and basically I could have just been on the open playa, there was so much dust, I was covered.

I might have slept an hour.

Maybe.

Which is why when I got sick, I got so sick, I had’t really slept in 36 hours, that and not enough food (I actually had been drinking a lot of water) led to the heat exhaustion, plus, well, duh, the heat.

So.

I’m telling my story about the multiple vans I had cancel on me, three separate reservations that all canceled on me and how I had to take my tiny Fiat and make the drive and basically halve the things I was bringing and I didn’t stage my tent and fuck my life, dust coffin, and the folks I was sitting with the next day commiserate, they’d had van cancellations too, and then.

HOLY SHIT.

My friend’s boyfriend goes behind the magic curtain and comes back with a tent, the same tent I used to use, so I know how to set it up, and it’s weather proof–no mesh top, no dust sifting down from the ceiling, “I’ve got a spare, you can use it,” he says.

So, I tore down dust coffin, and set up a new tent.

Two camp set ups in two days, extreme heat exhaustion, long wait to get in, not even on playa a day and a half and I thought, wow, this is really intense.

And it got wierder.

Harder.

Dustier.

And, as always, more magical in ways I could never expect.

I met and connected with new friends.

I reconnected with old friends.

I missed seeing a bunch of folks I for sure thought I was going to see.

I randomly bumped into someone I hadn’t seen in 8 years as I was pulling out on my bicycle from one art piece to head to another.

I got to go on an art car I have always dreamed of getting onto and rode one of the amazing mechanical carousel horses on it.

I danced.

One day, lost in a dust storm, shocker, I know, dust storms, I found myself so far beyond the area I was looking for that I just tried to find shelter to ride it out and stumbled upon a very, very, very lavish camp.

They had amazing music, and, holy shit, A/C.

I mean.

Fuck.

A huge common tent with A/C being piped into it.

There was also a lot and I do mean, A LOT, of drugs being very openly consumed.

I did not give a fuck.

I was sheltered in A/C dancing to amazing music.

I was never offered anything and I didn’t want anything and I didn’t care that there was so much wealth on display, all I did was, every once in a while, stop someone who was cavorting to ask for a water.

I was kept well hydrated and I danced for over three hours until the storm passed.

Then merrily took my tired knees back across playa on my bicycle.

I got to see my original poems hung up in the Museum of No Spectators, that brought big walloping tears to my eyes.

I had secret dream when I was young to see my art in a museum.

I was blown away by that.

Later in the week, with friends and family-an uncle on my father’s side of the family, I walked in my cap and gown and had a dear friend and the architect who designed the art piece, hood me in a graduation ceremony.

It was profound and moving and it meant an awful lot to me.

I also, promptly, got lost on the way back and wound up taking over an hour to find my way back.

Surreal to get lost in a place that I have been to so many times.

I star gazed in deep playa.

I cried in the middle of an art piece that moved me beyond words.

I danced in line waiting for ice.

I met a lot of international folks.

I got to know folks at my camp on a deeper more meaningful and intimate manner than I have ever experienced.

I don’t know how to write about one of the things that happened at camp that profoundly affected me without making it about me and I have been wondering for days about whether I would even write about it, or write a blog at all about Burning Man this year, though I have wanted to process it (my damn therapist had to cancel this week) but I do want to mention it lightly with respect and grace over drama.

I witnessed a death.

I was a first responder and performed CPR.

I was not a hero, but I was present and I am so very grateful that I was of service in the moments I was there.

I was also in shock at what had happened.

I leaned into people at my camp.

And I let myself cry when I could.

I only told a few people about what had happened.

Most of what I talked about was very minimal.

There was one person who heard the whole story, had been there when I walked out of the trailer stunned, held me as I shook with silent sobs and took very kind care of me.

I witnessed the camp come together in a way that stays with me, and I suspect, will always stay with me, to honor that person who passed and hold space for all those affected.

I told a woman who was there in the depths of the experience with me that this camp, which I had camped with twice prior, was now my camp for good, I was a member and I wanted a service position, I would be attending the business meeting and picking one up, commit to coming back, camp with them and be of service.

She welcomed me and suggested something to me and the next day I was elected to that position.

So.

I am going back next year, and every foreseeable year I can.

And I stayed, of course, I stayed, for the Temple burn.

Man burn was amazing and fun and I love me some pyro, yes, yes I do.

Temple was sweet, a touch sad, but not as forlorn as I have experienced it the few times I had been prior.

Honestly, I have only seen two Temple burns.

This burn was soft and sweet and though tears slid down my face a few times, it was not the horrendous vomiting of grief that I experienced after putting my best friends ashes in the Temple my first year.

Sidebar.

Yes. I do, now, know, that ashes are not welcomed there, but I was not aware of that at the time I went in 2007 for my first burn.

I can’t take those back.

And my best friend is always out there for me.

As I packed up my tiny car and got ready to sit in exodus for 6.5 hours, had I fucking known, ugh, I heard music from the camp next to me and I burst into tears.

You always get me at the end Burning Man, don’t you?

It was my friend’s favorite song playing.

It was like getting a soft kiss on my forehead, like he used to do, as I left the burn and headed home.

Tears wet on my face.

Gratitude for the intensity and the humility and the deep connections I made.

Shit.

I didn’t even tell you about the sauna in an Airstream I got to have, but I’ll save that for another day.

It is late.

And I have sleep to catch up on still.

I’ll see you in the dust next year.

You can’t get rid of me.

Seriously.

Burning Man, you got me for life.

Damn it.

I’ll Be Here All Week

September 2, 2013

Temple Burn happened tonight.

And as the clock ticks forward another year is done.

Burning Man really does mark all sorts of anniversaries for me.

This burn, my 7th burn, has been intense, full of small revelations, and a kind of cathartic dropping away of my self.

The self that wants to be autonomous and do it my own way.

The self that wants to isolate and be by itself.

The self that will strand me at the camp, by myself, waiting for some mythical unicorn or a romantic relationship to materialize.

Instead, what has, is family.

Strong family and friend ties.

I had a wonderful dinner with my uncle this evening before the burn and we talked about the spirituality of Burning Man, which for both of us is the connection, the human connection to each other and our fellows out here.

My friend made this awesome sticker this year–Dust Cult–Family Reunion, and that is exactly what it is for me.  A place and a time where I connect and re-connect with friends, relationships becoming more than just acquaintances, but truly family.

“Hey,” he said to me, as I walked through the crowd at the burning Temple.

He smiled and held open his arms and I stepped forward into an all-embracing hug.

I had gone out to the burn, which I was loath to do at all, on my own.

I had not planned on it, I had my own plans and ideas and they got shot in the foot.

I wanted a shower so bad I rode my bike miles out to get it, only to discover that the hours had been cut short to accommodate those folks that wanted to be at Temple Burn.

I could not even muster up a resentment.

I just climbed on my dusty steed and turned around.

I thought about going to the cafe, but had no desire to fish out money from my wallet, which has been stashed in the trailer since we first got out here.

I had a night last night.

And thought, I want mellow and quiet and I don’t want crowds and I want to be alone.

Except, that well, I don’t.

I got back to camp and it was dark and empty, everyone having already left for the burn.

I thought I could stay here, make a cup of tea, I got my ya yas out last night, I went dancing, I went to Xylophage, the Flaming Lotus Girls piece,catching it as the fuel died and the art ended. I went dancing at two different art cars and at a disco party on the Esplanade.

I ferried some folks about on the golf cart.

I saw a girl struggling with a gigantic rolling suitcase walking across open playa, she was crossing from one side to the other where her ride was waiting.  I rolled up, said, get on, and took her, the suitcase and a friend carrying the rest of her gear to her camp.

I got home late and I slept “late”…9 a.m.

Woot.

I had today off, my first day off, since well, I am uncertain, but it’s been over three weeks, I think.

I still have a week of being here.

I don’t know what that is going to look like.

I don’t think my family does either, but we are all a little crispy.

Everything I tried to do today back fired, gently, in my face.

Friends who I wanted to see having already struck camp and left, friends I had not known were out here, only to discover that they were and still not being able to locate them.

The man I met and spent the most magical night with ever, never finding me again and though I know where he is camped I cannot bring myself to go and seek him out.

“I don’t like being chased,” he said to me, on that night, not so long ago under the stars.

“I am not interested in chasing,” I replied.  “I am worthy of being found, if you want to see me you will find me.”

I remain unfound.

The times for the showers and the commissary being altered to accommodate for the big burns throwing me off.

My camera suddenly going kaput and when I went to download all the photographs I had taken last night the only thing that opened was some photos I took in Paris.

In 2009!

What the fuck?

I did not realize I was going to have today off, so I did not make plans to do anything and felt like I had too much time on my hands.  Then I realized, fuck, I am tired.

I took a nap in the afternoon and felt better for it.

I don’t always out here, sometimes it feels like I am no more rested then when I laid down to begin with.

Upon awakening I reviewed my day and tried something new with the camera, and voila!  My photos magically appeared again.

Then the dinner with my uncle, which was sweet and he handed me a napkin when my eyes misted talking about what this next year will bring.

I left him to do my own thing, only to get shut down.

Only to go where I was supposed to be the entire time, with my brethren at the edge of the night in the deep dark desert.

“Please, let this be the end of isolation for me, I let go of my ideas of what I need to do with my life and who I should be with.  Please help me be present for people who want me in their life,” I whispered out to the fire.

I did go to Temple.

I did watch it burn.

I could not sit in the trailer while the world was solemn and still and holding hands and each other out under the stars in the high desert air.

The lack of music, the stillness, the quiet only broken now and again by a sob, the crackle of the wood, it was eery and magic and love and family and renewal and I found myself raising my own voice into the coyote howl of love that rose warbling and grief-stricken and brazen into the heavens.

I walked forward, into the soft crush of people and said my piece.

I thought of Shadrach and his spirit.

I thought of the dying of self that I have had materialize out here.

This crucible of agony and dust and heat and fire, baking me and cracking me open again.

To raise my tear-stained face and walk into the arms of a friend I had not thought to see or have held me.

“It’s nice to see you this way,” he said to me last year as I tried on a new service position within the Burning Man community, “you were so untouchable when you were nannying.”

I remember those words and it was he that I sat in the back pew of The Church Trap the first day of the event and told fairy tales too.

Unexpected, apropos, and graced to fall into his hug.

I lay my face against his neck, sighed and let myself go, tears slid down my cheek and onto his shoulder, he embraced me and spoke kind words into my heart.

“Thank you,” I whispered in his ear, pulled away and looked into his sweet face, he kissed my cheek and melted into the crowd.

“Please help me to not isolate, please help me to be accessible and of this world.”

Seems like my prayers were answered in that moment, an unexpected, crooning lullaby of love and joy and tears, the howl of the collective human at the burn, the quiet soft voice of my friend in my ear, the embrace, the walk back under the stars, the ringing of my bicycle bell as I climbed into the saddle and rolled back to camp.

Just as my camp mates, all twelve of them that were left, tumbled out of the soccer mom mini-van to ransack the communal snacks and build a fire.

I pulled up my rocking chair and let myself be known.

I’m here all week, 8:45 and C, just a hop, skip, and a jump from the Tokyo Ranger station, off of what is left of the 9 o’clock plaza.

Come by, I’ll tell you a story, let you in, hold your hand, and make you a cup of tea.

Family.

Friends.

Lovers.

And loved ones.

Until I see you next year, I hold you close and dear, more so than you may know.


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