This is a short story about my adventure at Burning Man this year.
Tales of a Playa Goddess
Where do you go from here? Back to your reality, back to the life you lived before. I can’t go back, I can only move forward with the lessons I learned in Black Rock City. Love, heart, open; these are the themes I experienced this burn around. This was my second year at Burning Man and fourth Burning event, I thought I might have a handle on what it means to burn. Burn bright or not at all, live fast die young, no regrets. I found love, I found a calling, I found my family, and I found solace.
I found it in strangers and in a man I had long let go. Love is a dangerous angel. He comes in the early hours of dawn as if from a dream to break the monotony of everlasting beats and burning sage. His love moves through me like an ocean I haven’t felt since birth. Hand in hand we make our way to watch the art piece Embrace burn as if Irony himself was laughing at my fate. Enveloped in his arms we watch the wooden heads go up, my head tucked under his chin radiating through my heart chakra I know the timing must mean something. In a city of 70,000 you don’t just run into your past by chance.
I lost my way some time ago, I forgot what it meant to love life, to be happy in the moment. But I knew if I held out long enough something would bite me and make me remember why we are all here. Why are we all here? Love, it really is that simple. As that flighty playa goddess herself whispered to me, I am here to love, love is the answer, I am a reflection of you, and your beauty is my beauty. Swirling through the day break magic that is a desert sunrise, vibrating off the other beautiful humans welcoming the day with me, I am home. In this moment in my heart I am home. Home in myself and in the universe I feel complete. This oneness with God always presents its self to me when I dance. When the music is so pure and good it moves my every intention in a circle of acceptance and grace. I move through time on the backs of flaming chimeras, swirling through a crowd of strangers until my friends are all around me. Impish faces peering out distracting me from my flow. I want to reach for them, scream for them, you found me! When had I got so lost in my mind? Be careful what you carry because the man is wise, you are still an outlaw in their eyes.
The hour is young and the sun begins to dip, transforming the air into a hum of excitement for the coming night. Groups of fire flies brush past me, tickling my skin, beckoning me to follow them. Into the city, through its dusty deserted streets I roam. Away from the fire files who flint towards the man, only knowing deep playa for what it has always provided. But I know better than most to seek music first and the atmosphere will follow. Somewhere in the heart of the city set far back from the bustle of the esplanade is a west coast party filled with spinners and burners just feeling the feels. The delicate tones of Random Rab and Govinda vibrate around me and a friend. He can feel the sound in his hands, having never experienced anything like this I take pleasure in opening his third eye. The music fizzles out to demands of move your bikes or our power is cut off; it’s time to move. I leave my friend in the arms of his wife and ride across the playa from my home at 7 &A to dusty as fuck 2 & J. Watching the light in the sky begin to change I feel the charge of the coming sun, the promise of another day in Black Rock City. It feels like I’m riding a unicorn, fist pumping rainbows through a diamond crusted sky. LSD was made for solo bike rides to the rising sun, Albert Hoffman told me so.
I finally find my niche at Camp Question Mark where the psy-trance is calling my name. Who knows how long I dance, mixing with those other creatures brave enough to usher in the sun. Someone leaves a handful of Lindor Truffles inside my baby cooler when I’m not looking reminding me that random acts of kindness are the best kind. Sometime well after the sun has risen I realize the energy is shifting here and it’s time to roam. After a trip to the portos and an impromptu tiger balm rub down by a beautiful masseuse in need of hand sanitizer, I make my way across the playa. No destination, still riding the wave, I see a mirage in the distance, a bar in deep playa? They do exist. Upon arriving I see a mutual DJ friend hanging out and he invites me to stay a while. The art car has a bike rack and will take me back into the city when its time, so he says. I have a seat at the bar letting my cup be filled with an iced cocktail while I strike up a conversation with a veteran burner and his burn virgin sister. Apparently this deep playa bar has been around the last 10 years and is having its final party. When people tell you anything goes in Deep Playa, they really mean anything goes. Including being the center of a seven person fuck for all and getting cunnilingus preformed on me by the proprietor of said deep playa bar. Because as he said, “if anyone’s eating pussy here it’s going to be me.” If that wasn’t epic enough for you his wife quickly showed up to kick me out of the bar but alas it was time to take the party with me to the art car. (Also ladies keep your husband on a leash if you don’t want them getting freaky with uninhibited sexy foxes.)
One dust storm, twerk off through the playa later I was dropped off with the rest of the day time party animals and a pirate I had picked up at the bar. He was a little stumbley and wasn’t able to ride his bike so I knew something was up. I offered him a vomit bag and directed the closest person to get a medic, having had some familiarity with alcohol poisoning and desert dehydration it was time for a helping hand. I scribbled the location of the pirate’s bike on his arm, put him on another art car, and sent him on his way to help.
People will roll their eyes at you when you tell them you have had a higher calling but it’s your journey and not theirs. My first burn I was gifted the ability to rescue a dying man from an overdose and get him the help he needed. In that moment I knew God had parted the skies and said this is what you should be doing and when the pirate’s head started to roll I snapped into position. Burning Man inspired me to pursue medicine and I am currently back in school pursing a nursing degree, no bullshit. I want to help people and I’m gifted with the ability to cope when no one else can. This leaves me unable to deal with normal day to day life but give me a crisis and its go time.
The playa showed me this and the playa will give you pretty much exactly what you need when you need it even if you can’t understand why just yet, with radical change comes radical pain. Burning Man will change you, if you let it. I’ve been looking for change, needing to change desperately. I’d already found God and my calling but I was still struggling with love. Love hurt me and I was at odds with it. Angry with it, afraid of it. Sure I had found it but I was too afraid to reach out and grab it.
Until I met Edward Scissorhands. This man entered my awareness snapping pictures of everyone around him, asking first but not totally aware of life out from behind the lens. He split my drink, annoying…but he apologized profusely and allowed me to administer a spanking as retribution. We left Robot Heart to sit down and have a conversation and converse we did. I didn’t know how much I needed a shoulder to cry on until it presented its self to me. Tears flowing down my cheeks I poured my story to this man about how I’d found the man I thought I had lost but was always holding out for. I told him how he had hurt me and I was angry but I had forgiven him because that’s love. How he is the only human I have ever connected with on this level and was my equal and match in every way. How no one really deserved me but this man, and Edward listened. He listened with his whole being and held me, kissing my tears as they fell, telling me how wonderful I was for existing and to lend some advice if he could. Fuck that guy he said, he doesn’t deserve you, and if he did he would be looking for you right now not letting you cry to another man. I knew he was right. But being the kindest Swiss genie a girl had ever met he let me go, brushed the tears from eyes and told me not to fear. To go and find the love I had lost and confront him. I never found that love on the playa again but I sent him a message in Reno when I got to my hotel. He had been looking for me for days but kept missing me. So I invited him to my room, we shared dinner with his friends and retired to my bed for a last night together. Perfect, it was everything I wanted, to finish the burn in the arms of a man I loved. He saw me off to the plane the next morning holding me so tight as if to put my pieces back together. I was almost near a cry and a laugh because I was bursting with I love you. In the three years we shared together I’d never said I love you. That wasn’t our agreement, we hadn’t agreed to fall in love only to enjoy each other when we had the time. So I left, I didn’t tell him I loved him, I didn’t scream it from the rooftops like I wanted to. I thought I might just burst with happiness riding in the cab on the way to the airport. I had gotten everything I wanted from my burn. But I hadn’t expressed myself completely.
When I arrived home he sent me a message asking if I had made it and wanted to continue the conversation. Here was my chance to stop being afraid of getting turned down, so I told him. Told him how I truly felt and asked for nothing in return. And he didn’t return, with Embrace laughing in my ear I knew he would run. He didn’t deserve me and now I had to accept it. Would I have given him the time of day if I had known what I know now? Of course. Love is fleeting, take it when it comes, let go of it when it no longer serves you. I’m glad to be off of his hook. Now I can get on loving someone else, the Swiss genie perhaps. But until then I will continue to love myself, and be love, give love, free love. A prayer to end on, Dear Flighty Playa Goddess keep our hearts open to take the call for adventure and never falter in the pursuit of love and living, In Dust we Trust Amen.