So I’ve switched back to journals. Boner fide, hardstock quality paper. I like getting hand cramps from writing too quickly at weird angles.
Rites of passage was the theme for this year’s Burning Man. The art was incredible – walkways, bridges to nowhere, 30 foot steampunk ring portals into new worlds. It felt like Stargate, minus the weird Egyptian super soldiers. LED lights lighting up the pathway. What made things interesting is how my trip of all trips started.
I landed in Las Vegas en route to Reno. And realized I forgot my ticket at home in LA. Intense panic sets in. My face goes numb. I want to crawl further into the bacteria laden airport chair and disappear into myself. It’s so easy to skip that part: I have my gear, my tent, my pink el-wires, headlamp, I smell like I’ve been in the forest for days. I actually need to provide ticketed entry?
Hours later I’m exploring every cravas of the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno. Men with hats and their silicone enhanced, bleached blonde wives making love to slot machines. The girl at the Starbucks counter smiles and offers me a free bagel with my third coffee. But I’m reading. I’m writing. I make a friend, another Burner, and we head to the pool. It’s 89 degrees. There’s a mister on my shoulders. I’m drinking a blueberry mojito. The bartender hooks me up with a cabana. There are worse places to be. I’m in this odd transition state, letting go earlier than expected. I felt resigned to my fate – I’d be getting into Burning Man a day later, stuck in Reno – but eventually, I would arrive. So enjoy it. Take some chill pills – not really, though they were offered – and calm the fuck down. It was happening. You are not always in control. It’s best to ride the wave and see where it leads.
I arrive at 3 am, campless. So I pass out at the Jazz CAfe. Climb a scaffolding and find my friends. That night, after Indian curry is fully thawed and cooked, we venture out into the playa. Our plaza is taken over by the Pervitical Playground, a 3-story art car with slides and ropes and Bloody Marys. Rappers Delight, which plays the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song and any good hip hop song from my high school days – plus adjacent rock climbing wall – a glassblower team in the center of the plaza that formed molten glass from midnight till 4 am, curious onlookers high on LSD wondering where the fuck this came from. And us, Camp Zen as Fuck, a monkey hut, hexayurt, and shade tent that provided fresh reggae and freestyle battles in the morning.
Why on Earth would I plan things on the playa? My coworkers ask me “So what do you do there?” If I had hours, I could ramble and explain. But shit. What really happens? You learn to let go again. To ditch expectations for the day. To ride along, to say hello to strangers, allow serendipity to unfold before your eyes. I was amazed this year to see how good things build on each other. Getting stuck at the Temple compels me to walk 20 minutes in this direction, watch a ferris wheel where an animated skeletal Charon transports into the afterlife (I cannot put this it into words. Sorry) and stumble into an elixir and electrolyte bar served by a guy who drops maca man aphrodisiacs in my mouth. His partner hands me a coconut and I scoop out the meat. It’s a party. I’m playing billiards with bowling balls. Drumming while Victorians take photos in a psychedelic purple forest made from reclaimed wood. Earlier I’m on an art car/mobile wedding chapel, having drinks with a man named Gordon who flew in his dad from Switzerland. He is a diplomat and dressed the part. Khakis, belt, tucked in dress shirt. An hour later a topless girl is offering him candy and he’s wearing face paint that would make Mel Gibson upset.
How is it possible to have so much life crammed into one day. The days are weeks. The week is a month. Burning Man is a thing. it’s not a festival. It’s a turning point. A reset button, a marker for what to take on, and what to burn and leave behind. So many things. So many things to lose. More to find.
The loss of fear
The loss of patience
The loss of control for things I cannot control
The loss of anger towards those in proximity
The finding of a beautiful heart
The finding of best friendship
The finding of friends who were once lost
The finding of confidence
The finding of a partner.
You all should be here.