I woke up Tuesday morning after my early night and sat and watched. One of the neighbours I'd left a gift for came over and chatted with me and shared some of her story. She thanked me for the gift and complimented me on how I'd made it. She's a long time burner, and definitely not a "frat boy" and so I felt like I sort of fit in with the people I wanted to fit in with this year... the art car drivers who waved at me as I stood, in my white top and tutu on an early Tuesday morning in the heat. It's the greatest feeling. They wave and smile and it's just a hello. An acknowledgement. Of the day, the morning, of each other. Of me. Of being there. It's a hello.
So I sat Tuesday morning and watched our other neighbours, George and his family driving away on their elephant art car... like a king and his entourage, off on adventures. George was there with his son (who was close to my age) and his mother (who was in her 80s) and if that doesn't make you love Burning Man, I don't know what would.
There was a rough and tumble gentleman sitting basking in the sun out front of his art car and on my way back from the portapotties he stopped me and called me over. This, I felt, was a huge change from last year. And I feel like that whole sense of "fitting in" and belonging shows that I wasn't a newbie anymore... or something. Anyway, he called me over and asked me about my breasts. It was very politely done... "they're gorgeous, and they're natural too, aren't they, you must have loved having them all your life. This is my friend Brett, he's a breast connoseur. You should really let those beautiful breasts breathe!" Now, while this may sound creepy out of context, it didn't come across that way at all. It was just friendly, complimentary conversation about how these two gentlemen appreciated my breasts.
This particular fellow didn't give up asking me all week to let my boobies go naked and all week I just laughed him off (although it did get a bit annoying and I did start getting my sexism back up later in the week but didn't feel like asking if he was intending on getting his willy out as I think he probably would have) and kept telling him it really wasn't my thing. Even at Burning Man.
I did go braless one day, just my shirt, no bra, but biking on the bumpy roads made that a short lived thing, and yeah, I just don't feel the need to wander around with my breasts out. I told him if he ever made it to sleepy little Victoria BC to look me up and we'd head to the nude beach and he could see them there. But I digress.
We had some new girls start setting up camp behind us. They made me happy. Real burners. There they were, just setting up, not giving a shit. Sure, they were young, they were cool, but they were good. No need to show off; they were just there to be there and to have a blast and they were setting up their camp. F*&king awesome. It made me happy. I kept thinking they were the kind of burners I wanted to "grow up" to be.
It was hotter Tuesday, the hottest day we'd had yet but I felt better, and was very much looking forward to breakfast.
Breakfast, it turned out was eggs, potato hash browns, fruit salad and a view! It was delicious and perfect and so amazing to be sitting looking out on the desert and mountains and the Man and all the art and people. Way cool.
We went to get ice at the other side of town. We biked along Esplanade, the innermost road and the surface was terrible! We figured that the emergency vehicles and such must have driven on them during the rain, but man... it sure was a good example of why not to! We got ice and biked back straight across the playa, crossing over the road to the man and making our way to a few roads away from our road.
It was unoffically Tutu Tuesday and it was fun to see all the different outfit version of tutus. My favourite being a naked man with a tiny green tutu around his penis! Yay Burning Man and burners. I love you!
After breakfast I took off by myself for a while and made my way to one of the sex-positive camps. Not for any kinky reasons, or for any action or anything... I thought I'd try to connect with people there as I'd heard they were super friendly and welcoming but when I got there it just made me miss Jason and the staff wasn't there and it made me feel a little sad and lonely.
I went to a wine bar down the street instead and sat for a while while they played awesome music. I was still missing Jason or having other friends with me, but on my bike ride back to camp I managed to find a giant light bright, the one thing I'd promised C-Dawg I'd try to find so that made me smile.
Our new (awesome chick) neighbours ended up being from Vancouver and that made me happy too. I felt a lot better than I had Monday and that was also good. The day was hotter and drier, but it's the desert after all... wasn't going to feel like it did on a rainy day!
I went back to sitting, and watching (and journalling) and that's when the random meowing started.
No, not quiet, a cat is trapped under the bed, kind of meowing, but loud, where the bleep is that coming from meowing. Over...and over. And then it would stop. Just to start up again! At some point, someone started barking and that just made me crack up laughing and damn if this place isn't awesome... (I discovered later, on a trip to the portapotties, that it was a "sardines" art car that when stopped ... meowed. Because duh... sardines attract cats!) Meow...meow. MEOW!
I wrote in my journal that "my people" are the workers. The art car builders, the chicks who set up their own monkey hut and just chill. The captain of a helicopter art car with a dark tan, cigar and that feeling of rough and tumble. The good people. Hard working, not giving a sh*t and loving it all.
At some point, a gorgeous gorgeous girl stopped with her friends out front of our camp and I went out to ask if I could take her photo. She was a first time burner from Australia and we bonded over the fact that "Australians and Canadians are like cousins, we just get along so well!" True that my friend.
I felt very glad I was at Burning Man... but I still wish I had friends there.
Later, Connor and I went out for our dinner. I didn't know better and sprinkled my roast beef with what I thought were regular chilli flakes and then my mouth nearly exploded with whatever they actually were!
We went out to the Temple after dinner... it wasn't open yet, but we still stood and watched things for a while. There was a giant boat art car. Giant! WIth a HUGE party on it and we stood and watched them for a while. Then we watched the work being done on the Temple. A ranger (local) came up to us and chatted with us for a bit before giving us a gift of chapstick. It was super nice and unexpected.
We biked over to "Embrace" after that, one of the most talked about art pieces of this year. It was... interesting. Not my favourite, but I hadn't felt connected to the preliminary drawings either. If you haven't seen the photos online, it's the upper torsos of a man and woman in a hug, entirely made of wood. You could go inside and there was a beating heart and breathing lung as part of the art (I mean really, even if it wasn't my thing it was still pretty incredibly made and conceived) and stairs (that I chose not to go up) to look out of each "person's" eye and see the Playa from a different vantage point.
We kept wandering around (by bike mainly) and stopped for a while to watch a Flaming Circus and made our way past where we camped last year. We went back to the wine bar I'd been at earlier and saw a fellow who was wearing a suit with EL wire he'd sewn on to make the cover from Pink Floyd's dark side of the moon. Friggin awesome! I chatted with him for a while and told him how fantastic his suit was and that I loved it. It's moments like this, feeling joyfully connected to a stranger and sharing in that awesomeness that I love about Burning Man.
We biked around town some more and stopped for a while to watch some dodgeball. Yup. Dodgeball. Some guy had set up a contained dodeball court with floodlights and a lit up center line and there was this eleven or twelve year old kid just killing it! I was cheering away as "Sunshine" kept getting in trouble for putting his foot on the red center line, "don't touch my line, Sunshine! Don't! That's it! Take the walk of shame, kid!"
I had a beautiful moment that I will talk about seperately that had me in tears and that night I sat up and watched the stars for a while.
I went to bed that night and sorted and organized my space a bit. I was sleepy and rested, but then organized some more. There was still noise around me but I went off to sleep.
Woke up in the middle of the morning, too sleepy to walk to the portapotties, but needing to pee, so I.. well, I used my pee funnel and my dedicated pee container! Felt kind of bad ass doing so, and happy to be able to fall back to sleep, but you guys? I will never take having an in-apartment bathroom for granted again. Twenty steps to the bathroom is so nice vs having to put on clothes, walk for three minutes while watching out for art cars and bikes and then you're no longer half asleep!
One of the most memorable, moving, perfect moments I've ever had happened Tuesday night as Connor and I were biking randomly around.
I'd moved out of the way of an art car, so that they could take their wide turn in the intersection. I was standing there, this huge smile on my face, marvelling at what all this was when one of the spotters came jogging over to me. (An art car spotter walks alongside an art car to help the driver navigate) He reached out his arms and I leaned off my bike to accept and return his giant hug.
"I love you," he said.
"I love you too," I responded. Really truly meaning it, because my heart works that way. And I love that lots of people's hearts do too.
"Everyone here loves you," he continued. And I started to get choked up. "I know, I responded," actually feeling and believing it for the first time in my life.... everyone in this whole damn magical place of Burning Man loves me... just because. Because I'm me and I'm loveable and Burning Man is full of love and happiness and loving each other because that's how it's supposed to be.
"They built all this just for us to enjoy." He finished. "Happy Burn."
And I kissed him on the cheek as he ran back off to the slowly moving art car and I started to cry.
A big, cleansing, letting it all out kind of cry.
Connor just stood there, supporting me... told me to let it out, and I did.
It was this pure, honest exchange of human love... two souls connecting and appreciating each other for no other purpose than to share the love and joy. And knowing this human being loved me and I loved him and neither of us was afraid to share that.... and knowing that yes, truly, "they" build this whole damn city... all of it... all the art and fun and playthings and engineering and ALL OF IT just for us to enjoy. For us! For me... and him... and everyone. It's just done for us. It really is stunning and amazing and humbling and wonderful.
Happy Burn indeed my friend.
I only wish I'd been able to tell him just how much what he said and that he meant it meant to me.