I've found that as the week of Burning Man rolls along, there is a point where my mind starts turning to the sad reality of having to return home...
This year, I knew I didn't have to rush home quite as quickly as I usually do but once it got to the end of the week, I still started to get nervous about getting home.
For one... I had NO idea how the van would do after a week of sitting on the playa. There are endless strange stories about vehicles (especially older ones) just not working, or not starting.... they say it's the "playa gremlins" and odd things happen to vehicles... so I was nervous. Would she start? What if she didn't? How would I get help? What if everyone had already left by the time I needed help? And gas. What about gas? When you're leaving Black Rock Desert and heading north, as I do, it is about three or so hours until you can fill up. There is a "town" or two you drive though but they don't have gas stations, and so I'd been very nervous about my gas situation when I left, and was very nervous about it now that I was close to leaving the playa.
Jason had assured me I'd "probably" be fine. Which... not helpful, really. And I didn't know the van well enough to know the gas gauge and, no, I hadn't bothered to fill up the jerry can I had. Sigh. I did consider going "backwards" down to the closest down in the southerly direction but I didn't want to... for some unknown, possibly stubborn, reason, and figured I would just learn, hopefully not the hard way, if I had enough to get there and back on one tank. Sigh.
So come the end of the week, I was nervous about the vehicle starting at all, and if I'd have enough gas to get myself to the fill up spot 200 km or so away. (125ish? miles)
Usually, Connor and I leave as early as possible on Monday morning, but since I was able to, I planned to actually stay for Monday and leave as early as possible Tuesday morning. This made me nervous for the above reasons, but also because what if no one was left by then... what if the people I knew had already gone by then and I had no one to ask for help... with whatever went wrong?
I asked around my camp, and there were a couple of people planning on staying and the friend I'd made was thinking of staying too, so I was a little less freaked out about staying.
A few more people decided not to leave on Monday when the line to leave (Exodus) got delayed for police reasons (they shut down the city when a kid is missing... even if the kid is 17, apparently.... but she was found and all was well, but that kind of backup means leaving the city was quite delayed... as in 8-9 hours at that point) and folks who knew this decided to stay a bit longer.... so I was glad I'd decided to stay the "extra" day, even though I was fairly nervous about leaving for most of the day.
I didn't have the usual sadness around leaving as I was still anxious about getting back on the road and really wanting to get myself home. I did cry saying goodbye to my new friend, but that was about it. I'd done it, it'd been a week, I'd survived it myself. Now, home.