Monday, September 17, 2007

Burning Man 2007: Dusk Reflections


Sometimes the anti-sunset was better than the sunset. That's what some guy walking by called this side as I drank my beer and snapped pictures while dancing in the middle of the street to the music bumped by our neighbors, Big Puffy Yellow. Just like back here in the default world, sunset is my favorite time of day at Burning Man. The dust storms calm, the heat cools and in the distance a horn sounded every night at the start of the fall and the final disappearance of the bright ball behind the mountains. It was incredible and moving and the vibe was electric. I loved it more than I can ever say. I can call a beautiful sunset hours away by the clouds and other pending factors and I watched the horizon fall with great expectations. We were blessed more than once with a perfect sky to end a battling day. It was picture perfect.

IMG_4507 IMG_4513 IMG_4493

The descending of the sun starts cocktail hour, just try and get by the week without a free drink or twelve, especially if you have your own cup. I enjoyed my first of the week at the Mile High Club where the bartender was dressed as a pilot and flight attendants in white knee high gogo boots surrounded us in glow stuff as they danced by the carved burn barrel. It's an hour of reflection, an hour of partying, or a 10,000 man light saber battle. For me, it was the start of my time every day, since most days were spent in camp fighting for it's integrity and defending my body from the WMD that the wind was electing to be. Cleaning up camp, wiping myself down, changing clothes while dinner is prepared, I sat with my lantern in the entrance of my tent and relaxed. I thought a lot about how I was going to survive the challenges that seemed to be listing themselves in front of me. It is such a hard satisfying struggle, where every day you fight to live and your reward is how prepared you feel to take on the next day despite the previous day's abuse. I was bruised, beaten, chapped and blistered, yet self reflective and internal in a way I hadn't expected.

Reflection, BRC 2007

In retrospect, I would have to say that the theme this year for me was acceptance. If last time I had the stereotypical "finding myself" venture, this time, I think I spent a lot of time coming to terms with who I am and where I am in my life. I live in a city of 45,000 people and then left and went to a city with 45,000 people. I am who I am here and I'm not sure why I thought that I'd move any more than a few degrees away from that when given the freedom to be as much of a hedonist as I'd like to think I'd really be. I tried to comment at one point that fortunately, for me, and the majority of my campmates, Burning Man really isn't culture shock. I had lived most of my life as a gypsy hippie in California, and spent the last ten years in the Bay Area where pierced, tattoed and pink haired people rock the streets with their unicycles and fur bikes daily. Seeing them all dusty or having them introduce themselves as Tapioca really doesn't blow my mind as much as the sweet thirty somethings that flew in from Italy. I have fair access here to as much wild trouble as I'd like to enlist myself into, granted without the big flames and concentrated selection, so I guess I don't feel the need to pop my top for 8 days and push my boundaries.

IMG_4605 IMG_4850 IMG_4786

I don't like night time, loud music or crowds much back here, and I truly struggled this year with those elements out there. I'm not an outdoors girl, but the weather and sleeping on the ground was nothing compared to loud roaring music camps with thousands of bikes or sardine packed tipping art cars. I gave myself a fair amount of grief both before and during the event for not pushing myself more to do more of the nighttime and fire stuff. Why didn't I stay out all night and get drunk and be out at sunrise? It's just not me, but can I be a true burner if I don't trip on mushrooms and climb on the Thunderdome? It's a question I still don't know the answer to. I volunteered for my city and I worked at the front gate greeting people, hugging them and explaining the rules like the civil servant, RA and trade show girl I am. And the first day, I did it naked, like a proud exhibitionist needing to get involved. (But really, with that much camp gear on, are you really naked?) Coming home from that shift and having my only real shower of the week was one of the most satisfying times my whole time out there, and being out there on the front lines was truly some of the most fun I had all week. I was outside, talking to people, hugging people and trying to give them the best start to hopefully one of the best times of their lives. Actually, my latest night was at the gate when I pulled a 12-4am shift with 5-6 other burners pushing people into the outer limits of the city as we opened a whole new street due to over capacity. It isn't like I went to bed at 10 or anything the other nights. I did stay up until 2am the first night to watch the lunar eclipse, because damn, you just can't miss that once in a lifetime opportunity to see that auburn ball in the sky sitting in the middle of the desert. The man and derrick took way longer than expected so Saturday night was late but I was still more of a party pooper than most when I asked to be walked home and they all went back out. It was a terribly rough night for me, but Sunday as I rode back to the ashes of the man and sifted through to find screws for my campmates, I finally decided I didn't care.

Cheers! My Shadow after Critical Tits, Burning Man 2007.

I am so incredibly proud of where I am in my life. At 29 I am strong, and loved and supported by some of the most incredible people and on a full and hopeful path. I didn't only survive a full week in Black Rock City, I thrived and grew. I didn't change, I just became comfortable enough to actually be in a moment or two. So what if I wasn't meant to be a creature of the night but a sleepy lazy art lover who likes to ride her bike topless? Look where I am in my life? Look at all the things that I have to celebrate? I can't believe how far I have come from the girl who was ready to cry from all the dust two years ago, walking the outer streets crying, certain I was done for. I was tested, and I was put in situations where I had to really collect myself and contemplate my emotions and do it alone without the support of the people that hold me up on a daily basis. The confrontation was anything but a vacation, but I feel almost as refreshed. I'm still struggling immensely with my post playa return to stresses of a different sort, but I am also recharged with the motivation to go on and fill my life with memories. It'll be two weeks tomorrow we've been back...and fifty until they can return. I'm not sure if I'll go back next year...but he's still my man and it won't be forever until him and I are dancing in the dust again.

Me & the Dust Man

No comments: