“I have sometimes imagined that everything in the world is exactly where it’s supposed to be, all in their places, all the way down to the smallest things that we usually deem insignificant. Like that rock on the sidewalk in front of the grocery store on the corner. And if you kicked it—that rock—if you disrupted its place, it might leave a little rock sized hole of nothing, into which the world would collapse like water swirling down a drain.
But that’s not right. Things move. Everything moves. And the world never fails to swoop in and fill the place you thought was empty. The empty world is always full. Look around. Look again.
If you are lucky enough, in autumn, to see a leaf—when does it give?—falling from a tree, to witness its graceful descent to the grass in its entirety, and if you watch it close—don’t blink—it will occur to you that it’s absolutely fucking impossible. None of this is possible. And yet here we are, tenaciously, impossibly. You can dwell on the flowers. You can dwell on the rain. But if you do, if you make the crucial mistake of choosing this or that, you will have missed the greatest fact. That the orange flowers and the blue rain are mad for one another—raving lovers—grasping at each other, achingly, to close the space between.” ~ BHJ
as i noted in the prologue, my burning man this year was going to be different for multiple reasons, the 2 major ones being 1. jay wasn’t going and 2. i really, really, really needed a decompression chamber.
a bit more on #2: it seems i am a highly strung person. i am anxious. i get stressed over little things. i can’t sleep, and then i sleep for days. i have anxiety/panic attacks. i obsess over details. i keep meticulous lists. this has been helpful for my day job (which benefits from me being this way, and i excel at my duties), but not good for my overall being, and in the past year or so this has become literally painful, manifesting itself in my body and resulting in what is now almost a year-long chronic pain in my upper-back/shoulders/neck, most likely caused by anxiety and stress and has been non-responsive to all the other treatments i’ve tried, from muscle relaxers to chiro to acupuncture to rolfing (and in fact typing up this summary took longer than expected because whenever i type for more than 5-10 minutes straight, the pain comes back and i’ve only been able to write in spurts).
as anyone who has ever been to burning man knows, it’s not generally a relaxing experience and people need days, if not weeks, to recover. first, if you’re going with any organized group, there is planning stress from the 10,000,000 emails from your campmates. yes, this is necessary if you want to create a kick-ass village with kitchens and showers and art cars and sound systems and lighting in the middle of the desert. but knowing what you are creating doesn’t make it any less stressful, IMO. in fact, probably more stressful than say, planning an event at work, because in this case you actually CARE.
also, i am not a “joiner”, and i don’t much care for rituals, ceremonies and the like, which makes me going to Burning Man seem even more ridiculous, because, as the BBC recently pointed out, it’s one of the largest secular rituals in the US at this point.
and then, there is being there. the weather. the full days of WOOOOO! the long nights of WOOOOO! the dozens of miles walked/danced/biked every day, back and forth, around and around the circus. so much time when you have absolute freedom! the lack of sleep and nutrients. the dehydration. the exhaustion.
i did not need that right now. i needed to RELAX. and so my burning man experience this year was, as nicoco pointed out one morning, more like being on a cruise ship. i did work when it was needed and what i could, but then i laid around a lot in my beach chair, finishing reading Eat Pray Love and writing in my journal. i sat around Center Camp, sipping coffee and watching people. i went to bed when i felt like it. lots of caffeine aside, i did not do any drugs (i’m sort of a tweaker already while totally sober; drugs usually only amplify this in an uncomfortable way and i’m better off just not even going there). i didn’t even drink all of the champagne i took with me, and not once did i really feel intoxicated.
the link to Eat Pray Love: i started reading this book while traveling in south america. i won’t go into the details of the book but will say that reading this after dealing with this stress-pain issue for a year and then 1. traveling to south america and then coming back to work for a week and 2. going by myself to burning man did provide excellent context for reading a novel about a 30-something woman’s self-healing journey after a period of overwhelming, disabling stress.
i did have many issues with the assumptions and context of the novel (many of which are detailed in this Bitch Mag article: “Eat Pray Spend” and so i will let that article serve as a proxy for all my other thoughts about 1st-world consumer appropriation of other cultural rituals and the current problems with the “Sex and the City” feminism that seems to be popular these days), probably more than the average american woman who doesn’t live in San Francisco surrounded by self-affirming cultural appropriators who spend tons of time and money going to ashrams and yoga and dance-meditation and ceremonies of various sorts and get off on depriving themselves doing herbal juice fasts, and so her “journey” wasn’t this crazy unique story to me – it was a longer version of what people i know do all the time. but the writing was good, while i didn’t really care much about her own personal story of transformation, i found the stories about the other people and cultural situation she encountered to be entertaining and thought provoking, and a few of the ideas really stuck with me and are embedded in the text below.
mostly: i found myself in my own version of Eat Pray Love on the Playa. i was alone, independent, self-reliant, and i was, for most of the time (exceptions, of course), alternately conscious of my intention to relax/detox and choosing my actions/thoughts accordingly, and then really zenned out. i mean, as much as i could, i emptied my mind, stopped caring about who/what/where/when, and completely checked out. in a place where Active Participation is strongly encouraged, this seemed at first a bit odd, and it took a couple of days to adjust and not be enveloped by the excited mania that was going on around me. but it was what i needed, and when i returned, i was in such a state of relaxation that it was unfamiliar. i was calm.
below are the journals i hand-wrote while on the playa, with some text/post-script added.
(if you just want to see more photos, steph goralnick’s are by far my favorite).
DAY 1: Saturday, August 28
i got up early saturday morning, took a long shower, spent time with jay, and then packed up the rental car. the drive was uneventful, and as fast as probably possible, with little to no traffic. jay had made me several mixed CDs, and i listened and sang the whole way, enjoying the view, looking forward to my journey, the crest before Emigrant Gap taking my breath away as it always does. as i drove over Donner Pass though the clouds were dark and stormy, that odd ominous shape that looks like the underside of an egg carton. turbulent air. after Gerlach, the sign says “8 miles to Burning Man”, and suddenly it is raining.
5:30pm, August 28. I’ve never arrived at burning man in the daytime before and had it be cold, let alone raining. at 4:30 and Esplanade, the Institute villagers were setting up camp in the cold, damp afternoon, parkas and gloves on. i was put to work combining large white pieces of PVC with lynch pins, and once assembled hoisted them onto rebar into the whale-rib inverted half-circles that comprise the camp shade structure.
it drizzled off and on for the rest of the day, and after sunset it was suddenly definitively cold. i was very glad to have procured a super warm full-length fleece hooded coat from Tamo Designs, despite it causing me to fail in my resolution to “not buy any new clothes for burning man this year”. in other years, such a coat would have just been nice and warm and fuzzy to have in those cold pre-dawn moments. this year this coat was a LIFE SAVER.
alx and i went for a walk after dark, but it was still misty/drizzling and cold and we went back to camp. people rolled in throughout the evening, and i was tired and felt like it was getting late. i climbed in to my small tent, filled to capacity with a small air mattress and all of my food, clothing, tools, and other belongings. i looked at my watch – it was only 10:30pm. maybe i should stay up? my first night at burning man! i could see every sunrise! but it was so cold, and i was so tired.
and then i noticed that i was also aching, a lot, in my neck and shoulders, from the day’s labors, and the more i focused on it the more intense the ache/burn. i sat upright, meditation style, trying to really relax that part of my body, really focus on letting the pain go through me. i was also slighly laughing to myself. me! meditating! i am so bad at meditating. but you know….it sort of worked. at first when i noticed the pain it was pretty intense. but after sitting there, letting it go through me……i think it actually might have gone away.
i couldn’t tell how tired i was and so i started to read (Eat Pray Love). i read for a bout 15 minutes before i fell asleep, snug tight in my beloved sleeping bag, between all of my things, alone.
it was one of the longest nights i can remember. even though i had earplugs in, i awoke several times and could hear the rain. i wondered how hard it was coming down, and if everything would be soaked and muddy in the morning. i kept waking up, unzipping my tent and seeing it black outside. at least 3 times i did this, and then each time i would snuggle back inside my sleeping bag and marvel at my situation, my location, my life. so lucky to be sleeping like this. so long this night.
Day 2: Sunday, August 29
finally daylight came and i awoke slowly, others moving slowly also out of their tents, many of us having slept somewhere between 9-11 hours, cold and tired and also front-loading as much sleep as possible before the rest of the week kicked in. i felt sleepy but fully alive.
after coffees and various odd camping-food concoctions were consumed for breakfast. i opted for a packaged cheese, mushroom, spinach and asparagus tortellini dish from TJs that didn’t look like it would last long in the cooler. halfway through, i started reading the ingredients on the back of the package, and suddenly stopped short at the words “chicken fat”. i stopped eating for a minute and had a bit of angst, as i have not knowingly and voluntarily eaten a meat product in over 11 years.
then work began again, but with a pretty full team and it went quickly and smoothly, and soon we had the main things accomplished. nicoco and i went for a walk out to the temple in the late afternoon, and discussed forms of reverence and irreverence and how that is basically same-same for many people (hedonism and a form of life worship) and various other related topics. it was still chilly, but the sun was out here and there and theoretically the threat of rainstorms we had been warned about had passed.
later that evening, N says that it was noted to her that the red, white and blue LED lights she’d used to light up/mark her shade structure looked “too American”. indignant! and filled with the Burning Man libertarianism, i said 1. WE ARE IN AMERICA. 2. furthermore, decadently blowing tons of time and money and voluntarily living like 3rd-world people in a totally inhospitable place just so that we can party our asses off unobstsructed is the most American thing you can do!
i have to periodically making myself stop thinking of Jay. i start to get sad, lonely, and a bit confused.
the night before i left, jay got home from work later than expected. after i packed, we went out for a nice “last supper” to Encuentro – the nice organic food and wine cafe in Jack London Square. toward the end of the meal, jay said “i have something for you” and pulled a white gift box out of his pocket (and no, not even for a second did i think “oh my god he’s going to ask me to marry him”, because i know he knows better ). the few days up to this point, jay had been sort of sulky and sad about me going and not him, and i had tried to keep my burning man planning / excitement out of his face for that reason. so for him to now hand me a ‘going away to burning man’ gift was exceptionally sweet. inside the box was a gorgeous smokey gray faceted-glass pendant set in a hand-crafted sterling silver setting on a black leather cord. he’d spent the hours after work picking it out, and it was PERFECT and goes with everything. i am wearing it every single day, except when sleeping, and having it there around my neck, close to my heart, it is the manifestation of jay here for me.
sunday night: some camp members formed a 14-member posse to walk out to the temple (this year: the Temple of Flux), which, for the first time ever, is finished early and opening sunday night, before the gates open. not unlike “the belgian waffle”, it is a large waffle-cone-like structure built of out 4×6/2×4′s in an organic shape with curves with secret hidden passages and caves, lit from inside, glowing like the embers of a fire.
the Temple, from whatever year, is possibly my favorite place in America (it’s hard to say On Earth, having just been to Machu Picchu, for example). always visually beautiful, combined with the myriad of memorials and scrawlings of prayers and memories for the dead, the temple always has a solemness, a sincerity, an openness to emotion that is hard to find, and is exceptional in contrast to the escapist bacchanalian surroundings. the on-playa BRC weekly had a great piece on why the architects chose to go with a naturalized shape for the temple in a theme year about urbanism.
we then headed to the Bliss Dance sculpture, an amazing 40-foot sculpture of a naked woman dancing, tightly fabricated in shiny, iridescent metal. it is one of the most beautiful things i’ve ever seen anywhere.
we headed back to camp and i put myself to bed before 1:00am.
Day 3: Monday, August 30
TODAY’S NEWSPAPER HEADLINE:
WELCOME TO NOWHERE
walking to Center Camp around 10:30am (9 hours sleep!) I pass a bar playing Tom Waits, a handful of middle-aged patrons sitting at the bar, & a sign that read “The first step to recovery is acquiring a problem“. I consider that there might be a fair number of alcoholics on the playa who come to drink the week away, with no one ever chastising them for drinking any and all hours of the day and night.
at center camp, the cafe wasn’t open yet, so i found a place in the first bright sun of the week to sit and write in this journal, which gets hot enough that i start to sweat and so, because i can, i disrobe. i only feel comfortable doing this outside of my own camp in the earlier week days of burning man, when there are fewer looky-loos and old perverts with cameras. i watch a man and his 4-5 year old son do acro-yoga; the kid is amazing. the wind picks up, and i determine i should head back to camp to make sure my tent is ok.
on the way back, i see a ranger helping a converted school bus full of hippies turn around, and after a 10-point turn, the ranger goes up to the window, points a finger at the driver and says “NOW, you BETTER start having FUN!”
in the early afternoon i take another long walk around with b2+nat to look at art, and the sun is still shining but the wind feels cold. back at camp i lounge around a bit more, but then the weather really looks to be turning and so i add a heavier tarp to cover my tent, firmly staked downt with rebar, just in case. later in the afternoon, a small group heads out for another walk, but the air has dramatically shifted and at this point i am wearing a long sleeved, turtleneck dress + my warm fleece coat + gloves. IN THE DAYTIME. the front moves in, a light dust-storm kicks up, and then – IT STARTS TO RAIN.
we hop on an art car – a rolling covered-wagon filled with middle-aged men listening to Huey Lewis, drunk and singing along to all their favorite 80s hits. b1 almost gets kicked off the art car for not being able to identify a song as Van Halen. the art car drops us off, and i defect from the group and head back to camp. it REALLY starts to rain. HARD. i am shuffling as fast as i can back to camp, head-down, hood up, my boots getting mucked with clay, thankfully protected by my warm fleece coat. it rains. and rains. things are getting soaked, mud is everywhere, and there is a mixture of both panic and excitement of the situation. how long will this go on? will we be immobilized for hours? days?
after about an hour, the rain stops. and then:
everyone goes crazy, just like the dude from youtube. it’s a collective meme moment all across the playa, with hundreds of not thousands of people running around screaming WHAT DOES IT MEAN?! thousands of pictures are taken, everyone is wet and cold but happy, and i really wished that youtube guy could have been there to see it all happen.
this was a replay of sorts, as it also rained briefly in 2007, which resulted in a much more impressive full end to end double rainbow, but there was no meme then, so this time was WAY more exciting.
sadly, some of our camp members did get flooded in the downpour, but my janky little tarp-covered-tent set-up was perfectly effective.
after dinner, we took a very very long group walk all out to deep playa again, looking at art and enjoying the now totally clear and starry night sky.
during this escapade, we encountered a large, unlit teeter-totter in the darkness. for years i have always been rather hesitant to play on the larger sculptures at burning man. despite the fact that much of the playa is set up like a giant playground for full grown humans, i rarely climb up into things, or scale the sides of art. i wouldn’t say that this is because i’m necessarily afraid of climbing things in general – in fact i do it quite a bit. but there’s always been something hesitatant in me about climbing things at burning man, perhaps the nagging idea that If You Get Hurt It Would Really Suck To Have To Go Home. it turns out that i’m fairly risk averse when i think it might impede my overall experience, so i’ve just usually watched other people clamber and climb and swing. but when i got there this year i mentally said to myself that this was silly and that i should climb more art.
when at the top of this particular teeter-totter, you were 6-8 feet off the ground, not like other huge Teeter Totters of Death i have seen at burning man that are ridculously scary and require restraints, and it seemed like lots of fun. so i climbed on, along with 2 other people on my end, and 3 other people on the other end. at some point, there was a communication failure about getting on/off, and one person got off our end, but not the other end, which meant the other end suddenly went plummeting to the ground and whit and i were launched into the air. we both grabbed on as tightly as possible and avoided being thrown, but were suddenly both clinging sideways to the beam. i had used my legs/inner thigh muscles to keep me attached to the beam, and the action of having forcefully and abruptly rotated 90 degrees sideways, legs tightly wrapped around a square=shaped wooden object, meant PAIN. it took a second to realize the pain but then it hit and i calmly yelled “ouch. ouch. OUCH. OUCH.please, get us down. please. quickly. BUT NOT TOO QUICKLY.”
we safely disembarked, but the entire inside of my left thigh was deeply bruised for the rest of the week and in fact it took almost 2 weeks for the purple/green/black marks to fully subside. now, 3 weeks later, there is still some sort of strange knot on the inside of my thigh that hasn’t gone away. so much for me climbing on art.
more things were climbed, we pushed buttons, spun things+played in light, deciphered hieroglyphs, looked in tiny windows, and enjoyed hte night after the rain.
inside one of the Tiny Tropolis dioramas
2:45 am sometimes the moonlight is so beautiful i do not want to go to sleep.
i just re-read the writing from this morning (at center camp, before the rain) and for a minute that didn’t seem possible that this has been all the same waking day.
in some cultures, time isn’t measured, it is weighed. today feels heavy, in a good way. like the comforting weight of a blanket.
tomorrow expects to be even longer and stranger.
DAY 4: TUESDAY-WEDNESDAY MORNING
because of the False Profit Tuesday Night Party, tues – wednesday always run together, with waking tuesday usually lasting until sometime after breakfast on wednesday or even early afternoon.
early in the afternoon, a BRC postal worker delivered a letter to me, from Jay. (my apologies for those of you who usually get burning man mail from me: i totally spaced on bringing stamps this year.) On the envelope, he had hand-drawn caricatures of himself, Snuggles and Piggles, with a sunshine, trees and mountains, not unlike something a 7-year-old would draw. then, inside, a greeting card with a love poem written by him to me, and photos of himself, the cats, and the two of us kissing at burning man 2007 when the last double-rainbow happened (eerie!). i started to cry, especially when i noted that the postmark was from saturday, the day i left, and i imagined him getting sad after i departed, putting this together and going in-person to the post office to mail it that same day. as i mentioned, i was up to this point trying to keep myself from thinking too much about jay because i was trying to achieve my objectives of Relax and Be On My Own and thinking about jay was stressful, especially today, the Day Of The Big Party, and so receiving this was cherished but also very difficult to process. i wanted to be alone and so i went back to center camp for coffee.
the TNP was epic as usual, starting slow and meaningfully, building to a deep muscular crescendo of undulating bass and art cars and humans and then softening with the dawn.
i had opted for a caffeine and champagne regimen to get me through, floated by a lot of adrenaline, fun and happiness.
reagan, liz, judit and justin showed up sometime during the night, and as i went around giving them each a hug, i suddenly noticed that liz was holding a life-sized photo of jay’s face, grinning and attached to a stick. as noted, earlier, after i had received the letter, i had really been missing jay and sad for him to be missing the party, and so my initial shocked reaction to seeing his face was to push it away from me and say “i really don’t need to see that right now”, because i had just spent ALL DAY trying not to think about him. when i recognized a second later what it was, especially when i learned that jay had made them himself as part of “project doppelganger” and sent them up with liz, i started laughing until i cried. for the rest of the night, throughout the party, i would pull jay’s face out and surprise people and they would all double over with laughter, especially when i explained that no, I had not made and brought this, jay made and sent this.
when dawn came, many people had their photos taken with “jay” at the party:
when sunrise over the horizon approached, i took jay and walked over to the neighboring pagoda/tea temple and climbed to the top, and we sat and watched the sun come on Wednesday. as i walked back to the party, sunglasses on, Reagan came RUNNING up to me and was like OMG THIS IS SO PERFECT!! and proceeded to hand me yet ANOTHER jay-head, this one “Daytime Jay”, with sunglasses. OBVI. daytime jay had a lot of fun wednesday morning.
then, W, nicoco, justin and i went for a tricycle/bicycle ride out into the playa for a quiet happy morning. on the return approach to camp, shouts from the village art car, the Malthus, implored us to join their morning jaunt. we dumped the bikes, climbed on, and were back out into the morning. i was getting really exhausted by this point, having been up almost 24-hours with only caffeine to assist, and initially the raucous mood inside the art car was too much, but then i discovered friends sitting up top, and from up there we quietly enjoyed the morning ride. back to camp, and to sleep at around 10:00am.
DAY 5: WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON – THURSDAY MORNING
i woke around 2:30pm, my tent hot, and wandered over to center camp to get coffee, wake up, and observe all the strange humans that collect there. the weather was now acting like standard burning man weather: hot with a chance of dust storms.
at dusk, orange, jstrauss and i went out wandering and to find friends and then i spent the rest of the evening hanging around in camp. at midnight i put myself down for a disco nap, need to be up again before dawn to participate in the morning White Procession, a Thursday morning tradition of a slow march toward the temple at dawn, everyone in white.
DAY 6: THURSDAY DAWN – FRIDAY NIGHT
my alarm went off at 4:00am, as i thought that was about when Anastazia said she would be coming to camp to help get people for the White Procession, and also i had committed to waking everyone else in FP who wanted to do this up. camp was totally deserted, everyone either out or sleeping, and it was cold. i didn’t want to wake my other FP campmates up earlier than they needed to be, and so was kind of just hanging around a dark cold camp by myself, tired and grumpy, but i have missed the White Procession EVERY YEAR due to oversleeping, and i did not want to miss it this time. a slight point of irritation at this time also was that i had noted the day before that the ONLY DJ i was interested in finding out there – HEYOKA - was playing at 4:00am at a camp not too far away. so, basically, i had committed to doing something at the ONLY time the one DJ i wanted to see was playing, and yet there i was, standing around in the dark by myself. did i run over to see part of his set and hopefully make it back in time to wake up my campmates and get ready before sunrise? this seemed irresponsible. so i didn’t. in retrospect, that was stupid, because in fact the sky didn’t start to get light until around 5:15am and that’s when i woke everyone up and Staz showed up.
we all got dressed in whites, including Justin (because he was there), and put in some of the traditional butoh white-face. staz gave a short briefing of 1. her intention/motivation for doing this, being that her first husband and longtime friend had just passed away unexpectedly the week before and this was a memorial offering, and 2. what we were to do. the simple coordination was that we’d walk in a single file line, the person in front leading the movement and then moving to the back of the line. all in all there were about 15 of us, and as we headed out just before sunrise, we moved like a single being, undulating like a caterpillar across the desert dawn.
photo (c) 2010 David Hays
we moved this way all the way to the temple, where we then slowly moved through the crowd, doing small but intense coordinated movements, circling together in the center, a small crowd watching as we bowed to the earth and let the dust and sand slip through our fingers, then exiting the temple for a closing circle in the bright morning sun.
it wasn’t until staz started to cry that i also shed tears. (funny aside: just as we were doing our final moments of silence as a group, an art car floated a few hundred yards away blaring “Invisible Light“, the campiest most ridiculously techno-disco track off the Scissor Sisters new album and i had to work really really hard not to laugh).
it was the most beautiful thing i’ve ever done at burning man and an amazing way to start the day.
i went back to camp and then stayed up for the rest of the morning as it was gorgeous and, by the time i was tired, too hot to sleep. as i lie in my lawnchair reading in the sun, campmates sitting around drinking coffee and chatting, i heard a voice yell “LADY LEBLANC!” and two guys i’d never seen before approached on bikes. i stood up. “Yes?”
“We have a playa-gram for you.” and then one of them kindly proceeded to, as poetically as he could muster though the text was obviously unfamiliar to him, recite:
If I venture in the slipstream
Between the viaducts of your dream
Where immobile steel rims crack
And the ditch in the back roads stop
Could you find me?
Would you kiss-a my eyes?
And lay me down
in silence easy
to be born again?
which are, as probably only jay knows, the first lines of my favorite song off of my favorite album, Astral Weeks.
i thank the messengers, who were just random volunteers delivering playa-grams, and then almost immediately after they departed, reagan showed up, this time with a care package for me from jay that included 2 glass bottles of my favorite hard-to-find soda of my youth, Faygo Rock-n-Rye, some other items, more photos, and a long letter about how his week was going thus far. once again, jokes from the campmates about how it was like i was serving in the military or something.
i did not open the letter right away, as i didn’t want to read it while sitting in front of everyone. i went back to center camp to get more coffee and read it there, and of course it made me cry.
at this point i was feeling pretty overwhelmed by all of these deliveries from jay and disembodied interjections of him into my week at burning man. i was touched by the necklace and wore it every day, and i had expected that to be the sole representation of him and that i would carry him with me, next to me, but not necessarily think about him all the time. i did not expect to have his face, his words, his smell, his thoughts repeatedly appearing.
most of all, i didn’t like that i was having a negative reaction to what were obviously completely romantic, thoughtful and heartfelt gestures. it was making me very emotionally confused (does he love me more than i love him? does he miss me more than i miss him? if so, what does that mean? why don’t i feel thankful/grateful/happy for this?), and especially since it was all one-way communication it very VERY UNBALANCED, with that feeling increasing more as the week went on and things kept appearing and i was not able to get a break from thinking about it.
by early afternoon i was getting pretty tired, but i still wanted to be DOING THINGS, and an art car is the perfect answer to that situation. Malthus departed again, and i stayed on the art car for most of the rest of the afternoon, lazing in the moving scenery, dancing here and there, our captain demanding over the loudspeaker that people give us ice, booze, and at one point just rolling right up into the middle of the dancefloor at Disorient.
Returning to camp around 6pm, exhaustion from being up since 4am and then in the sun all day really started to hit me and i wanted to crash, but it was time for the traditional False Profit Thursday Night Dinner, which i was scheduled to help hostess. dinner went well, although being so tired, i didn’t really enjoy it.
after dinner i thought about going to bed, but this was also possibly my last night at burning man, as i intended to leave either Friday eve or Saturday AM, at at that point leaving Friday seemed likely, partly because of exhaustion, partly because the mood on the playa was starting to reach that crazy mixture of cracked-out people who’ve been there partying all week and manic weekenders who are trying to cram as much into their 4 days there as possible, and partly because all of jay’s communications made me feel like i should go home earlier rather than later.
so although i’d been up since before dawn, i powered through, drank a red bull and at around 11:00pm a small group of us headed out. first we went to see Ill.Gates play again @ Entheon village. we arrived to find the dome space almost completely empty aside from a few people sitting or lying down. we stretched [yeah we are getting old and need to stretch before dancing so as to not hurt ourselves] and then danced to heart’s content, which was really nice.
headed out again, wandering, my companions progressively on another level than myself, and eventually headed toward this beautiful large sculpture near 10:00 that was a ball shooting fire:
photo (c) 2010 David Hays
what i did not know, because i had not been there yet, was that this ball of fire, the Pyrosphere, was inside Nexus, a large sound camp. we arrived just as Bassnectar was going on, playing an unscheduled set because the camp he was supposed to be playing at was having technical problems. now, everybody knows Bassnectar is the best DJ in the world, and i for one am still a big fan of his live sets. i was also getting a leeeeetle tired (physically and mentally) of wandering endlessly, and so decided to stay and dance while my companions took off. luckily though i soon found other friends (nev+bex!) who also wanted to stay and dance, and so i joyously danced my ass off for all of bassnectar’s set next to that huge gorgeous fireball, and then decided to call it a night. i walked back to camp and went to bed sometime around 4am.
DAY 7: FRIDAY
i slept from 4am-11am Friday and awoke refreshed. i went back to center camp for more coffee, now a morning routine. upon returning to camp, people were starting to get dressed and motivated for a little coordinated Monochrome project, where people had each picked a single color to dress in for the day, which created a rainbow. since BLACK was not allowed, i choose red, and right before i left, Miranda Caroligne was kind enough to make me a new red dress at the last minute. colors flying, we boarded the Janky Barge car and headed out.
around 5:00pm we returned to camp, and i reluctantly started packing up, knowing it would take me a couple of hours to get everything done before dark. eric did the hard task of pulling the rebar out of the ground, and by the time dusk fell i had everything packed up and in the car. it was a gorgeous warm evening, and i pondered whether to stay one more night and leave in the morning. but i knew jay was waiting for me back home, and that if i stayed out all night i wouldn’t be in very good shape to drive the next day. no use staying just to go to bed early, so at 9:00pm sharp, i got in the car, and headed home. 6 hours door to door, and at 3am saturday i arrived back in oakland, gave jay lots of tired hugs, quickly unpacked my car, showered, and fell asleep.
POST-SCRIPT: LABOR DAY WEEKEND and BEYOND
there were 2 hard things about coming back from the playa this year. 1) i really wanted to maintain the inner calm i had managed to cultivate while out there, but as soon as i got back there were ALL KINDS OF THINGS TO DO. it was a holiday weekend, after all, and the people who hadn’t been to burning man wanted to do things. there were picnics and hikes and parties and drives up the coast. i did my best to participate yet remain relaxed, which resulted in a lot of people asking me “what’s wrong, you seem so quiet”. apparently Relaxed Amy is something people are really not used to.
2) i didn’t know how to talk to jay about how i felt about him sending me all the things, how i felt unexpectedly bombarded when i had prepared myself for a week of “alone time”. i didn’t know how to express this without it sounding ungrateful, or unappreciative, or like i had been trying to get away from him. so for the first couple of days i had a lot of this feeling pent up inside of me, and every time i even thought about saying something i almost started to cry, and so i didn’t for several days. i’m still not sure how he felt when i did tell him, but in retrospect even though it was difficult to go through at the time i think it was good to experience in that it was the first time in a really long time that i’d been forced to really think about our relationship and how attached i am to it, and i think there was a lot of growth for me there. <3
i thought i’d have more to say in post-script about reflections on my experience, but i think i covered it and, honestly, i’m kind of tired of writing this blog post now. if you’ve made it this far you’re probably tired of reading it too.
all in all, i am really happy with my experience this year. i think i got what i needed.
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