Memoirs From a Burn
8.29.2019 (Thursday: The man burns in three days)
We have moved. This instability is very shocking to me. I had found quiet(er) places to engage with the routines I have at home: Meditating and Yoga. My more in depth movement practice is tricker to engage with here because of my own personal social anxieties. I spent four years at a conservatory avoiding practicing the violin in practice rooms when certain people were around because I felt judged (even when I was the only one doing the judging).
I will be able to maintain the routine I’ve developed, we aren’t far from our old camp.
I am well, I am breathing and I am well
The black water in the RV is full, our gauge was giving us a false reading and we did not plan accordingly. I may need to shit in the port o potty tomorrow if this isn’t resolved quickly. It was my number one deal breaker on coming to this fiasco in the desert.
I am fine. I am breathing. I have dealt with far worse than this.
I bike out to the opposite side of the city with hopes of figuring out how to get sewage removed and, bonus, find Alex Grey’s camp. I find Alex’s camp and leave after only 10 minutes of a lecture on the use of psychedelics in therapeutic settings. It is way to crowded for my comfort level. I will skip returning to the only camp I was excited to spend my time at while attending Burning Man. I find a quiet place with shade to read.
I am fine. I am breathing. I am really disappointed but I am fine.
My traveling companion meets me and wants me to accompany him as he looks to meet up with everyone he knows in the area. I lose my backpack briefly, which gets me in a slight panic. I recall a discussion with a friend long ago where I once said “yes I have some baggage” to which she replied “maybe not baggage but you for sure have a backpack” and I’m afraid to lose that tether in this moment. My bike breaks for the second time on the opposite side of Black Rock City from my camp. I part ways to get it fixed.
I am not fine. I am holding my breath and muttering angrily. “I fucking hate this place”
I go to the bike shop. In response to his jovial “how is your Burn going?” the man who waits beside me in line gets my politest version of “to be honest, it just isn’t my thing, and I can’t wait to go home” he will tell me how “people come out and think it’s just partying and it is also having to work through struggles.”
I tell him I have plenty of struggles without traveling to find them and that I avoid parties at home and I certainly didn’t come to party. He tells me I’m just going to the wrong places and there is something for everyone. I tell him of the nice experiences I had yesterday. He gives a condescending “see”
I try to explain that my version of those experiences could have been created anywhere and could have costed far less.
He will try to offer his cheap philosophy that change doesn’t come without sacrifice.
I am really agitated. I want to explode. I want to give him a piece of my mind.
I will listen and nod to his unwelcome advice on dealing with hardship, while becoming increasingly resentful and making my own assumptions about him and creating my own stories about his sheltered and limited experience and perspective outside this “fun desert adventure!”
I am angry. I am trying to end this conversation. Thankfully my bike is so fucked they need to move me to another room so I have access to more tools.
The shop walks you through the process (sort of) and you fix it yourself. We get the gift of learning. I have fixed my bike. The gentleman is sweet who helped. I am trying to be polite and acknowledge his effort and service. I am secretly annoyed that I knew almost as much as he did and I know nothing about fixing bikes.
I return to the RV which still has a full black-water tank. We have missed the time window for sewage removal. Time to deal with port-o-pottys.
I’m really fucking angry right now. If someone else tries to preach to me to “calm down” I will do far more than breathe. #radicalselfexclusion
Our new neighbors are wonderful. They are a delightfully real couple in their 60’s. (I have again changed names for privacy sake) Tom reminds me of my step-dad, an intelligent humble colorfully complex gentleman, who just wants to make his best effort in offering assistance (acts of service). My relationship with Bettie reminds me of the one I have with my mom, we chat about the difficulties of this place and how she dislikes it here but loves her husband and wants him to have the experience he is curious about. Tom loves the idea of non conformity and burning an effigy.
I feel such kinship with them. I am breathing. The days are very long here.
My traveling companion and I miss our prepaid dinner at our old camp because of a misunderstanding that turns into a small conflict with my friend.
I am fine. I am breathing. He knows I am not fine, but I am breathing. The days are so very long here
I spend an unexpected evening doing the closest thing to partying I have engaged with when I take a brief art car ride with Tom and Bettie. I convince Bettie to let me bring Tom’s bike on the car as the driver indicates the ride will last till sunrise. Tom’s knee certainly can’t handle a trek across the desert should they decide they have had enough. When I dash to get the bikes I remember the gifts I have stowed to give away in my bag. Two extra pairs of earplugs.
I am well. I am breathing and I am well
We ride. Tom throws water on a dude dressed as a pope and yells “I blessed him!” Bettie and I sit and laugh. I somewhat embarrassed and she more accepting of a man she wouldn’t expect anything different from. We ride part way out the playa and listen to a performance blasting from a colorful camp with red lights and dancers that remind me of a fantasy palace that would exist in Amsterdam.
I feel anxiety when the car stops to pick up new travelers knowing I don’t know how long before my next chance. I hurriedly grab my bike and offer to help get Tom’s off if they feel done, as getting the bike on was no small feet.
I will leave to go home at 10:30pm, they will ride till 2:30am.
I love them. I am breathing. The days are so very long here.
Cover Image Borrowed from Obaat.co’s instagram