Friday, 21 October 2016

So, There I Was

So there I was.  At Burning Man.  By myself.  
It was weird.  Completely different than any other time, if nothing else, because Connor wasn't there.  Or anyone at all that I knew.  At all.

There were people there I'd talked to.  Like I talk to you.  So it's as if some of you came to Burning Man.  I mean we know each other, but not... really.  Plus the week (or three) leading up to getting there had been really stressful.  I'd been concerned that I wouldn't be able to feel grounded or settled or calm or however you want to put it if my stress didn't reduce leading up to leaving, but I'd made it and...that's all there was to it.

Annnnyway.  There I was.  At Burning Man.  By myself. 

I really didn't write much the week I was there, so I'm going by memory for a lot of this.  Not that that's terribly unusual after last year when I was never really in my own space to take any notes.  So I don't remember exactly the details of getting up Tuesday morning.  I imagine I was up in time for breakfast (a nice benefit of camping with a camp and paying camp dues) and I probably sat either with the one person I kind of knew from internet and chat land or with the main group of people from the camp and then I probably decided to head out for the day.  I dunno... doesn't matter hugely, really.  I had a few "errands" I wanted to get done, so I headed out with my list of things I needed/wanted to do.  Like checking in with Media Mecca to register myself and my camera (I can't remember if I mentioned it, but I applied for photography stuff this year and got approved!) and then dropping off some art to someone who'd really liked it (on social media) or trying to find person X, Y, or Z, but no one was where they were camped (SO not unusual for Burning Man... it's why I sort of laugh when someone suggests we just meet at Burning Man, because yeah... it's not that easy, but in a fun way)  I had some gifts to give to people at Max's camp and knew he'd be out all day (at an event he hosts) so I headed to their camp.  I was a little nervous but really wanted to see people.  I got pulled aside for a snow cone (yes please!) and walked with my bike for a while, and somehow, I honestly have no idea how (except maybe because I was camping on the opposite side of town?) I looked up and was at the farthest away part of town from where I'd been trying to go.  Yeah, I got lost.  For those of you who've been, or for whom this makes any sense, I was heading to 8-ish and ended up at 2.  Yeah... I know, right? Sigh.  Four years and I was utterly unable to navigate this time... apparently.

So I was lost (but not lost... just... not at all where I'd been headed) and it was hot.  Like ugh hot.  Not nice hot.  So I took this all as a sign.  I'd tried to get to Max's camp and I'd gotten lost.  And I was about to make myself suffer in the heat... you know what?  Time to head home. 

I stopped at one of the post offices instead (yep) and dropped off the gifts I'd wanted to give to people and asked them (very nicely) if they would please deliver for me, and then I headed back to my camp for some rest.  My van provided some very nice shade... I hadn't thought too too much about angles when I'd parked but after a few years there, I do have a pretty decent sense of where the sun rises and sets and as I said, I had a good chunk of shade in that afternoon heat glare. 

The only awkward thing was when I realized I'd positioned my chair in such a way so that when people went to use the camp shower (think camping shower setup with a tent around it, and VERY COOL evaporative system for the grey water) I was staring right at them.  D'oh!  So, yeah, that was hilarious (in my head.) 

The notes I wrote for the day (which I didn't write until my rest in shade time on Wednesday) said that being at camp = too many people.  I wrote that I didn't want to talk and socialize and I just wanted to be alone.  This, I realized as the week went on, is an introvert thing.  People drain me.  Especially strangers.  Because with strangers there's this sort of small talk that's expected.  Or at least I feel it.  I feel it's polite to try to get to know people and be friendly, especially since I was new at the camp and felt like a guest trying to make a good impression.  Sigh.  But I missed having my own space like we usually carve out.  I missed being able to sit and maybe talk to one or two of the people I knew and had travelled with.  This time, anyone I talked to was a stranger and I didn't want to be around them.  I didn't want to have to be friendly or nice or anything.  I just wanted to be alone. 

I went out again in the evening.  Tried to find a couple of people I'd really really wanted to connect with.  No luck.  But I did find one of the gals I knew from home (travelled with us in my first year) and she introduced me to a photographer I think is pretty great and a few other people from home and that was nice.  This may also have been the night I stopped and got a random grilled cheese sandwich (like last year!) and listened to the Crossroads band, I'm not entirely sure, but I did bike around and look at stuff for a while.

I felt... meh, about the art.  Which felt weird.  I don't know.  It was like there was nothing much there I was impressed by or interested in.  And everything was dust covered.  Ironic, huh?  Which made it all have this sort of sameness to it.  It was a strange feeling. 

I remember reading or hearing that somewhere around your fourth year you can hit a kind of a meh sort of feeling.  This "I've been here and done this" sort of thing once the newness and wonder wears off.  So I told myself it was maybe that.  But I think it was more about me being there at all.

I think that the getting there... the solo drive, was what it was about.  What it had been about for me.  So the rest of it just sort of fell to the wayside, really.  Art?  *shrug*  Being at Burning Man because I got myself there?  Wow.  You know?

But it was a dusty day.  And hot.  (I know this because I wrote it down!  And because... Burning Man!)

I also made a note that night as I was lying in bed, in my very own camper van, with a fan going that was run through the inverter Jason had installed that had been charged by a solar panel... that that was pretty cool.

That and listening to Floyd, which felt oh so very right on this trip.  (I'd tried listening to the Hip, but it just made me sad.)

And the last note I made was that I was feeling meh.

Maybe it was just the Burning Man initial grumps... but I was just... meh. 

(And as I typed that I just shrugged.  Heh)


Jason Langlois said...

I think your observation that it was the getting that that was the Wow might be spot on.

I do wonder - how much does the art change year to year at BM? Does it start to feel the same after a few years, where you're going 'Oh, that's like the one I saw two years ago', instead of 'Oh, that's really cool!'?

And that is really amusing that you set up to watch people shower. :)

Victoria said...

I think that was a part of it this year (and I've talked to a couple of people who noticed the same) That there wasn't a whole lot of newness to the art. Especially with the large art pieces (and the ones that don't burn) and the art cars, they come back year after year so sometimes, especially if you don't get out and about a lot (which I didn't) it can feel not all that different. So, yes, there was this odd feeling of "seen this" even when it was a new piece for the year... But I also didn't find much at all cool this year, which was strange. There is a fair amount of change but also a lot that returns.... if that makes sense.

"that is really amusing that you set up to watch people shower." I DIDN'T! It was an accident! Noooooooo *runs away and hides* ;)

Jason Langlois said...

I'll accept the official explanation that it was an accident, and not an intentional set up to watch ablutions.

And it does make sense, yeah. I went to Orycon a bunch of times in a row in the 90s, and found that the last few visits to the con had lost the "oomph" and that I was mostly just going to have an excuse to go to Powells and visit friends.

Anonymous said...

it's a bit of a shame that it wasn't more exciting - I don't know a whole lot about it but have always seen it portrayed as extravagant & indulgent.

it is a big thing to go to something like that by yourself - good on you.

Victoria said...

Total accident Jason, yes!! :)

Well, from what I've heard, any excuse to visit Powells is worth it!

Solo Roving, it, like many things, is different from how it's portrayed. Not to say it can't be extravagant and indulgent, but it has never really been that for me anyway. And thank you, it was pretty big to go by myself :)

Elliott said...

Totally understand the introvert thing of people draining you. It's why I always sit somewhere in the hockey dressing where only one person can sit beside me. Totally understand that.

Too bad that there wasn't more variety to the arts and other displays. Sounds like it's a bit like watching the Santa Claus parade in Smalltown, ON...same floats year after year, just in a different order. Still cool and exciting, but kinda...expected? Known?

I also think surviving the drive by yourself was a huge part of the adventure of your Burn this year. So much so, that the rest had trouble competing.

Victoria said...

Yes, Yes, and true my friend.

Some years, it's not all that exciting that Santa's at the end of the parade, but some years it makes you smile... just depends on what all else is going on. Like... surviving the craziest drive ever.

And yeah, I knew you'd understand the draining thing. Introverts unite! Alone... in their own homes ;)

Jason Langlois said...

Just have to say that yes, Powell's is worth the trip. Just have a big trunk to carry home your findings.

Victoria said...