Insomnia (insomnia) wrote,

Burning Man last Saturday...

My recollections about Burning Man over the last week have had a weird synchronicity to me with this week. It seems sorta appropriate that I am starting this post at almost exactly the same time I arrived back from Burning Man last week...

So, what did I do last Saturday? Well, like I mentioned before, Kirsten spent most of the night in a half-sleep, freezing her ass off. I woke up first and woke her in the process... she was shivering all over, so I snuggled her into me. I soon noticed that rain had leaked into the tent, soaking some of the area around the mattress. Kirsten was cold, miserable, hung over, and wanted to go home.

After warming her up, I wrapped her up and ventured outside. The rain had turned the playa into thick, deep mud. Just the short walk caked my shoes with an inch or so of thick, claylike mud that literally had to be cut off my shoes. I fixed Kirsten some cocoa to drink, she was treated for dehydration by one of the rather new age members of the camp, went back to sleep for several hours, had some breakfast, and felt significantly better. Sleeping in also gave us a chance to let the rain dry off the playa so that we could start exploring again...

Kirsten initially said that she wasn't interested in drinking again, but we wanted to drop off the rest of the playa coladas with the bar... once we got there, a rather rare opportunity presented itself... someone dropped by with a bottle of absinthe. We had never had it, so we both had a shot. I'm hardly a lightweight when it comes to drinking hard alcohol... I can testify that the stuff burned more than any alcohol I think I ever had, with the possible exception of bacardi 151. Kirsten wanted to have another shot, but I warned her away from it... which turned out to be a good idea, since she was soon feeling rather knocked out. I advised her to rest further and be feeling better by the evening. In amongst all this, we jumpstarted the car... and while Kirsten slept, I took the time to load everything possible into the car again. Still, there was hardly any room left in the car. Kirsten woke up later, feeling fine, and we dressed up for the evening... not much was going on at Burning Man that night until around 8:00, when everyone started getting ready and making the pilgrimage to the Burning Man. It was rather windy, so we got a place near a fire engine, which blocked the wind effectively. Of course, I took all sorts of pictures of the burn, but I showed you that before... Despite all the difficulties we had at Burning Man, the hardships... the various stories I didn't relate about trying desperately to not have our camp blow away... the times we helped others to prevent their camps from blowing away, etc., ... it was hard not to have some really strong feelings during the burn. We had survived... made it... and we did enough to contribute that we felt like we belonged with these people out in the middle of the desert. From a social standpoint, it was everything we could wish that we had within our own lives, own communities. You leave Burning Man and go back into "civilized culture", only to realize what a cultural vacuum it all really is. You can leave Burning Man, but Burning Man doesn't leave you.

We walked around after the burn, seeing the beautiful art cars, fire dancers, and creations made with elwire... we even warmed ourselves at a bonfire, where a guy stripped, then got his female friends to take their clothes off. They tried persuading the others around the fire to get nude, but it was cold, it was windy... no one was interested. Kirsten gave them most of the remainder of her beads and got more hugs...

When we got back to the area near 7:00 and head, everything seemed shut down. We didn't want to walk over to Death Guild and dance in an uncovered, cold, windy area... so we decided to head back to camp. At that point, it became clear we weren't going to do much of anything at Burning Man anymore, so I told Kirsten that if she wanted, we could leave that very night. She decided to take me up on it. We tore down our tent at around 10:30 and by 11:15 or so, we were ready to go. Long drive, middle of the night, cramped car... we were stopped at the California border, where a customs guard took one look at our playa dusted car and said "Burning Man?!" We said yes, and he, seemingly annoyed, waved us through. It was a long, tiring trip, but we made it home more or less in one piece. Despite taking the car through car washes, we still have to clean off all that playa dust... It lingers. At times, it seems like I can still smell it.

Many people who go to Burning Man seem to experience post-Burning Man depression... that is certainly the case for me. The playa is like a blank canvas where you can create anything your heart desires... whereas the Silicon Valley is almost entirely developed and has a urine-like haze to it... when it rains, it smells like exhaust and metal from all of the pollution. Certainly, a lot of creative things happen in this valley, but they are invariably in the name of corporate success. There are a lot of Burning Man related events going on in the bay area, fortunately... I may find myself in the trap of working 51 weeks a year until I can go home to Black Rock City.

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