“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” -Java Johnny
Burning Man is so impossible to write about. Life on the playa is so radically different, full of childhood wonder and fantastical ideas that become reality. It reminds us that life is art, that giving is good, and that surprises are around every corner.
We found Java Johnny, our favorite old coffee-slinging nonsense-talking character, right in the same spot he was 3 years ago. (“Attention campers! If you’re wondering what time is it, I have the time for you. Get ready to set your clocks! The time is….THURSDAY!”) Naked Lady was there too, and so was an awesome couple from Portland who brought a whole box of Voodoo Donuts that stayed fresh enough for the first 2 days.
I met a kid who went to Hofstra University with me and was in the same major a couple years younger than me. We drank Zach’s homebrewed saison and reminisced about old professors. “Come to New York,” he told me, “I’ll get you a job.”
On the first day it rained, which never happens. The playa turned into thick, cement-like mud, which coated our shoes like glue until everyone had a 4-inch platform of mud. My cheap old boots somehow didn’t attract the mud as much, but Zach and others went around barefoot or wrapped their feet in plastic bags and slid around the neighborhood. It was fun.
Our neighbors formed “Camp Let It Go”, a hodgepodge group of Americans, Aussies, and Brits. They built an amazing multi-level shade structure with hammocks and a fully-stocked bar and DJ setup. They also built a flower dome, one of those old playground domes covered in twinkly lights and lined with pillows and carpets. The best part was the top level of their structure, an elastic-rigged hangout lined with sleeping bags and stuffed animals. We fit a lot of people up there, watching the sunset. You just had to make sure everything was arranged well enough that no one fell through the straps! After all, “safety third.”
On Friday there was a dust storm. It got terrible right when we got to the temple. The only quiet place on the playa, people kneeled praying, meditating, honoring loved ones, as the dust swirled. Biking back, you couldn’t see 4 feet in front of you. I was terrified of getting lost out there, dusty and dried out like a lizard. We made it back and laughed at how our faces were different colors inside and outside our goggles.
My bike got stolen. It was right outside our camp on the outskirts, and we were only next door at Camp Let It Go. Yesterday we got a comment on our blog from the thief. He must have read the “La Aventura Project” bumper sticker stuck on there. You can read it under the “Maps” section. To whoever you are, I’m not that mad about it. I didn’t want to carry that crappy bike back home anyway. I just wish you wouldn’t have taken it on Wednesday! Maybe you’ll keep reading our blog.
There were more moments, more laughs, more awestuck-staring than I can ever remember properly. New best friends whose names you’ll never remember. Swirling stars and subtle realizations that you can’t put into words, but they change who you are. It’s hard and dirty and difficult and immensely creative. I hope I’m blessed enough to return.