This is gonna be so much fun...
Tanned, tired, besoulpatched and newly resmitten with human beings, I arrived back from the Burning Man Festival relaxed, blissed out and totally convinced that this is just about the best kind of vacation in the world.
The weather and the environment, the peeps and the philosophy of the whole thing have lit up a kind of non-denominational christmasy yumminess in me. I doubt I can really relate what Burning Man is like if you haven't been there (my pics might do a better job), but I will try. The future of this thing is bright and huge; this is an event limited only by the imagination of some of the best and brightest people the world can produce and I was wrong before I went to think that it would be like anything I had ever seen before. It's not hippies, it's not drugs, it's not sex, it's not the expression of people who don't normally have a chance to express themselves. Maybe it's the human animal breathing.
Jason and I arrived in the surreally flat and huge Black Rock Desert during a dust storm. From a distance, I could see this tentacle of dust ending in a massive cottonball, all neatly reflected in a mirage. Whe we got inside it was like nothing I've seen since Mt. St. Helens erupted: about 10 feet of visibility occasionally broken by moments of calm where cleverly worded signs and landscapes of cars and tents and costumed festival freaks emerged - only to dissolve moments later back into the flat white nothingness. This is a harsh, hot and dry place and my early fear was that the majority of the week would be spent stumbling in goggles and dustmasks from shelter to shelter while I ate dried food and cursed the silly people who didn't schedule this damn event in Bora Bora. Nothing of the sort happened. The wind died down and we randomly found Mark and we didn't see another dust storm until we left seven or eight days later. Most of the time Burning Man 2005 was relentless sun on a hard cracked alkaline beach. And of course, much of the action happens at night.
The people we camped with, and the people all around us, surprised me and woke me up a little bit. I'm super grateful to my gracious friends Mark and Dia for connecting me with the dadaist sitcom cast of characters who made up our camp. I have a great big raw I-love-people hard on.
First off, there was a group of three burlesque cheerleader-mockers: Lara, sort of the wise-eyed matriarch prankstress, who brought a complete bed to go under the girls' immense shade structure; Nancy, hilarious, generous and adorable while eating cherries; and the delightful T, a Burning Man vet who wears stuff with smiley faces all over it (including a home-modified yellow bra). T's husband Mark, who kind of reminds me of the guys who made up Monty Python, modestly said some of the funniest things I've ever heard. This guy just comes off as extremely competent.
Also in the camp were Frank and Cricket. They tended to run on their own schedules (generally they stayed up until about 11 in the morning), so they thankfully weren't around to have to observe my morning naked walk to the pee bottle and dust booger extraction ritual. Frank is super fun to have around and Cricket is this cool little dude who just ripples with good times and seems (along with *cough* some other people) to be extremely good at hooking up with new friends out on the playa.
The person I spent the most time with (other than Jason, my good-natured bad ass love monkey adventure conspirator) was the breathlessly gorgeous Corinne, bubbly she-princess of all things delicious and wonderful. Corinne - with her relentlessly perky and affable personality and tits kind of blew my fucking mind and my heart just ate her alive. I'm still getting random cuddly waves of goodness rippling through my shoulders. I need to convince her to move to Maui with me, where I will gladly cart her around on whatever bicycle-powered conveyance I can muster.
Anyway, I really came to love these people. I would tell you about our awesome neighbors, but I just don't have the adjectives and don't want to come off as a fucking person-liker. Suffice it to say I really don't feel like I met anyone I wouldn't like to hang out with again, and coming from a person who generally would rather curl up with a good book or my laptop than talk to people that ain't faint praise. I've got a human being permagrin.
I guess the other thing that I really dug about this trip was how the whole philosophy of the event at large seems to act as an architectural framework around which the human spirit can grow and prosper. Respect and preparedness for the constraints of a harsh environment combined with a culture of creativity, giving, and mischievious curiosity makes for one hell of a good time. It cost me maybe $1000 to get there and back, but I spent about $10 while I was there, and that on ice and coffee. I met a bunch of great folks, I had an unbelievable time. Thanks to all who helped, who were there, who are there now. Love you guys, love this thing. Let's do it again next year.