The photo that first introduced me to Burning Man, back when I first joined flickr in 2006 is no longer there. The person who took the photo left flickr this year, but I remember the photo, distinctly, it was one of the first photos I ever favourited, and it was the first time I'd ever heard of Burning Man.
I'd always sort of vaguely wanted to go. To see all the things I'd seen in the photos, and to see what all it was about.
But I never had an idea of how I'd go, or who I'd go with, and so it always just sort of slipped back into "some day."
Fast forward to early December 2012, and Jay and I are just starting to get know each other. One of the first things that comes up is that we'd both like to go to Burning Man some day.
Maybe we should go this year.
He's the one who suggested it, actually. "I know it's a long way away, and we may not even like each other when we meet, and maybe this will freak you out, but wouldn't it be amazing if we went to Burning Man together this year?"
Yes. Yes it would.
And, yes it freaked me out, but it also brought "some day" into... "now." And I saw the opportunity to turn what might never happen into something I should start looking into and thinking about and trying to make happen.
And at first, even the idea of going freaked me out. Reading the masses of information about it freaked me out. But I kept telling myself I didn't have to go.
And then tickets came on sale.
And we bought tickets.
Because of the time change, he ended up falling asleep right when we both got through the waiting period, and I ended up FaceTime calling him over and over until he woke up and that's how he managed to get a ticket.
And we were both excited.
"We're going to be Burners!" he said.
I knew I had a whole lot of freaking out to do.
And a mass of planning and learning and organizing and figuring out.
I told him a lot that I couldn't talk about it. That not having met him quite yet and not knowing about Burning Man was just too much so we could talk about Burning Man once we'd met and I portioned out the amount of reading and learning I did, taking breaks when it was all too overwhelming, slowly acclimatizing myself, making lists, getting it sorted in my head.
Jay and I had been together for a while when he told me that his plan was to fly himself down to Burning Man.
This was news to me, as we'd talked about a road trip on the way down (I've booked a chunk of time off in August and he was planning to either be not working at all, or to tell whatever work he was doing that he needed the same chunk of time off) and I'd just, well, assumed that we were going to do the trip together. And that we'd camp together, and experience it together, and have each other to share that first time with.
I asked if I could fly with him and he said no, explaining that the type of plane he'd be taking wouldn't allow for two people (it's a weight thing, and a space thing combined.)
We talked a lot about it, because it sort of exemplified our relationship in a lot of ways. Jay did what worked for him, and didn't actually seem to care about what worked for me. Without exception, any of my guy friends that I told about the "he's flying and doesn't care how I'm getting there" situation said that that was extremely lame (to put it politely) and that it was really uncool (my words, not theirs) in terms of a relationship. I told him as much and he changed his tune slightly.
He said that of course if things worked out and he was still here we'd drive down together, and I was relieved.
But I still, in the back of my head, knew I couldn't rely on driving with him.
When I ended things with Jay, one of the concerns I had was how I was going to get myself down to Burning Man (for those of you not familiar with this part of the world, it's a ferry ride from here to the "mainland" of North America, and then apparently once you're over the US border it's something like 17 hours of driving if you take no breaks. It's a long way. 1,187.4 km away, apparently.)
Now here's where things, for me *here* get a little tricky. While Burning Man is a temporary city of 40,000 people, Victoria itself is a small city, and I'm guessing the Burning Man community here is even smaller. And I'm sure it would be easy enough for me to mention that I met so and so or such and such and for that to somehow turn out to be someone who knows someone and then all of a sudden all the effort I put in to protecting my anonymity is poofed away and I lose the little privacy I have. (Even if it's an illusion, I still like it.)
So I don't feel free to talk about Burning Man and what's going on with it or for it or the people I'm meeting or not meeting because I want some privacy around it. Plus, it's not necessarily my business to tell.
So all I'll say is that there's someone I vaguely know, an acquaintance, who I found out through another acquaintance, is going to Burning Man this year with some of their friends and they've sort of said I can tag along. I may drive with them, or I may drive "with" them, but it seems I may not have to do the entire 17 hours there and back all by myself. I hope.
I met them this weekend and I think we'll get along just fine, although I'm sure some nerves may get frayed with all that time in close quarters.
For those of you who know much about Burning Man, or who know little about it but have ideas, or for those of you know know nothing, I just know that I'll be doing my own thing, and experiencing it my own way. I'm not going to be ingesting any substances other than food and water, and I'm going to be keeping all of my clothes on.
Those are the stereotypical things people seem to believe about Burning Man, that it's a bunch of naked hippies running around on drugs, but with 40,000 people there, including families, and an average age of mid-thirties, I think that stereotype is going to be something I may witness, but not necessarily what makes up the experience.
I mean, sure, I may not end up going. Things may change, I may choose to opt out at the last minute, I may not be able to go, who knows.
You may hear me talking about Burning Man a lot as I try to sort through
all the freakouts and worries I have around it. (And there are a lot,
but I'm working through them and being an organizer helps settle them...
a tiny bit) And I know you'll understand if I'm vague about certain
things, or people or whatnot. It's certainly going to be a large focus
of my mind over the next few months, for better or worse, so we'll see
how much of that, if any, spills over onto here.
I just know that I still wish, very much, that Jay and I were going to Burning Man together. That things were still wonderful and we were still living together and in love. And I wish that we were getting ready for a fun road trip down and a fun experience that we'd always have the memories we made together to share. I really do wish that.
But I also know that if Jay had never come into my life, I would never have thought to buy a ticket on my own this year. So Burning Man would still be a "some day" instead of a "well, you know what? maybe actually probably possibly soon."