August 20, 2013 — In two days, we’ll be on the playa. The second we pass the Greeter’s Stations, we’ll be transformed from Alan and Judie into Perky and Lashes, and we’ll leave behind the default world and all its issues. I can’t wait … well, that’s not exactly true. Because I’m always apprehensive about going out to the desert. In fact, the first year I attended (2005) I was fairly certain I wouldn’t survive the experience, so I dragged my feet on preparations and pretended it wasn’t going to happen.
Who could possibly want to go out to the desert, live in a tent, burn up in the hot sun and have only porta-potties for toilets?
But at the Greeter’s Station that first year, magic happened. I released myself from worries and limitations and just let go. I donned a pair of butterfly wings, lay down in the dust to make a playa angel and rang the virgin bell. I got happy, and stayed that way the entire time I was in Black Rock City. The image of my son running after his errant kite on the open playa, the site of a stallion seemingly emerging from the playa surface, the joy of lighting the city with my campmates, the love of people who I had just met … these are the indelible memories of Year One.
For many years after that first burn, I kept the 2005 Lamplighter’s charm around my neck to remind me that during Burning Man I was always a better, younger person than I was in my default life. Then the string that held it broke, and I misplaced the charm. The memories of my first burn faded, as our annual preparations became more complex. We now had an RV to prepare, and we made more costumes, clothing and gifts. Burning Man was still fun, but I lost a lot of the original pureness of Year One. It happens.
I found my 2005 charm again the other day, and it’s back around my neck helping me recall that sense of wonder that made me love the burn in the first place. It feels like this is the year when I’ll get back that original joy. I can’t wait to cross the Greeter’s Stations and become part of Black Rock City and the Burner community again.
Yeah, I’m still apprehensive (I’m a worrier – a skill I learned from my late mother). Will we have trouble with the RV? Will the weather turn nasty? Will I remember to pack everything I need?
But I’m ready for all those concerns to melt away in the blaze of sunlight and the warmth of love that is Burning Man. I can’t wait to hear the words, “Welcome home.” I’m ready to be Perky again, to experience the utter joy of life in the week-long world that is Burning Man.
See you on the Playa. Look for us at Lamplighter’s Village, and be sure to come and light the city with us at least once while you’re at the burn. There’s a nightly party at Lamplighter’s Village from 3-5, followed by the magnificent pageantry of the lamplighting processional. Or join Lashes and me at 8 a.m. each day as part of the morning pick-up crew that gathers lamps and bring them back to the Lamplighter’s Chapel. It’s a less formal affair, but you still hear the cry of “Thank you, Lamplighters” as we retrieve more than 900 kerosene lanterns from the stanchions along the main roads of BRC.
Have a safe and joyous trip to the desert!