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what happened at burning man – part 1

I was never a person that was like “I have to go to Burning Man because it’s on my like Bucket List of life.” I’m not a bucket list person because I believe that life brings us the experiences and people and places that we need when it is time, and that happens to me every single day. To say Burning Man is on your bucket list is insulting to the organic magic of the city and the people who work so hard to build and survive and love together and make it happen, and to treat it as anything other than a magical, beautiful gift in your life negates the true open experience of being there. Burning Man is not a thing that you should do because it’s on some checklist. Burning Man is a place that calls you home when it’s time. When you go to Burning Man you better fucking mean it, because that shit will try to kill you again and again and again. Burning Man is not a thing you do once to say you’ve gone. It is a life changing, heart ripping open, otherworldly space trip to another galaxy that will blow your entire life apart if you let it in. Burning Man gets in your lungs and your blood and your skin and your heart and your soul and tears you apart and shows you that anything is possible forever. That there is nothing you can’t do. That there is nothing unloveable or broken or wrong about you as you are. Burning Man will change your life forever if you let it and you will never, ever be the same, but you will be the best of yourself that you could ever be and you will find your highest potential, discover your strengths, curse and accept your weaknesses, your love, your pain, and you will see what you are really made of. But we will get to that in a bit.

I always thought of Burning Man as kind of a mystery where cool weird hippies dragged a bunch of shit out into the desert for god knows why and sort of left it at that. Then in April, I decided to go to the Robot Heart music festival Further Future in the Moapa Valley desert outside Las Vegas because I was sad about a boy and because the music lineup was completely insane and I couldn’t not go. I went alone because I’m a badass motherfucker and I met so many amazing, beautiful, wonderful people who were like “Beautiful, magical, brave lady, you are one of us, You must go to Burning Man.” The day I got back, I bought a plane ticket to Reno for August, having no idea if I’d be able to get an actual ticket to Burning Man, but once the wheels were in motion, Burning Man started coming to me. I got a ticket in June because of this blog and just reaching out and connecting with people. When it’s time for you to go to Burning Man, nothing can stop it. It is a force in your life that takes over everything else and pulls you toward that fire and things just line up and happen and then it’s time. Burning Man calls to you and you come home.

I was incredibly fortunate to be invited to join a group of three other people who invited me to stay in their RV and camp with them. One of whom is my forever KWANE Francesca who invited me to join her tribe after knowing me only a few weeks. We met at a divorce brunch, locked eyes, shared some eggs and three months later we were buying helicopter insurance to get out of Black Rock City in case one of us got injured or sick so we could get to a hospital in 20 minutes instead of five hours. Because we are responsible bitches like that. KWANES.

From May, we started planning. The four of us that made up Camp Handle yo’ Bizness were a soulmate couple of seven wonderful years, myself, and Francesca. They all knew each other and I was the newbie, but Nico, Yo, and I were Burner Virgins, so Francesca having been before helped guide us in our strategizing and planning to make the best camp ever. We spent lots of weekends making outfits, gluing sparkly things and lights into weird amazing space outfits, and ordering all the things on Amazon. Like, ALL THE THINGS. I will probably never pay off my Amazon bill for real. But I am set up for every party, travel excursion, and festival ever now. I am going to go all the places and do all the things until I fall down and die. Bring it.

It’s not easy to go to Burning Man. Not even close. No matter how good you are at planning or organizing or being ready for anything, I mean we could have survived a zombie apocalypse, but still you still don’t get it until you get there. It’s so logistically difficult and I had a fucking team of beautiful angels taking care of me the entire time. It’s ridiculous that I got to do this and I am so grateful forever to YoNico and Francesca for making this happen for me. I absolutely love them more than I could ever say and Francesca for knowing we would just get along like gangbusters and fall in love as friends for life. It was a literal dream come true. My heart is with them forever and we are joined for eternity as friends. I can’t wait to see what we can build together in the future. Because I’m pretty sure Handling yo’ Bizness is going to need a whole city block in a few years.

So all summer we planned and outfitted and arted and created our experience before we even knew what it would be, because you seriously have no fucking idea, like no matter how much you read and learn and plan and think you know, there is nothing that can prepare you for the actual experience of Burning Man. Burning Man is everything. EVERYTHING. There is nothing bigger or better or more fun or more anything. This is the ultimate deal, folks. Burning Man is the most epic thing on the planet. Fact. You wanna go, let’s make it happen. I will help you. Because I am never not going to Burning Man. I’m in the cult, converted, and prophesying to help this happen for people I love. Burning Man will change your life forever. Or you might hate it and never go back, but yeah, for me, it was the other thing.

Nico, our head nerd and Decider and Leader of All Things, made us a camp plan that included an outdoor living room with a full kitchen, Road Warrior sound system, shade structure and bocce ball court. Seriously, there is no way I could have had a better first year experience without these amazing human beings. They are my family for life. We Skyped and Facetimed and made a massive sixteen page spreadsheet and just handled our bizness, as we do. Francesca and I made signs and did art things and Nico and Yolanda did EVERYTHING else. Living in San Francisco, they were able to stockpile our supplies and store them in a house in Lake Tahoe, taking many trips over the summer just bringing things up there and handling basically all the survival things. I still cannot fathom all the work they did to make our trip happen so flawlessly and they took care of everything from food to shade to the RV to music to even picking up our rental bikes before we even landed. Late in the game, we got invited to camp on the corner of an established camp, Preservation Society, and we were like FUCK YES WE WANT THAT SPOT ARE YOU INSANE? Just every single thing just happened so perfectly it felt fated and so right. It could not have been better.

We flew into Reno on Saturday the 27th, and I was like losing my mind to get to these people who I had been emailing and Facetiming with for months. Francesca and I got there about an hour apart and I was already meeting Burners and having the time of my life before I even landed. I got a web design job from a Trump supporter on the plane who insisted I was wasting my beauty on being bisexual and I got to school him on queerness and he admitted being attracted to drag queens and realized that gender can be fluid and maybe that people who have different sexual preferences than you can be beautiful and nice and awesome. It was the absolute best. He like sells granite or something but I’m going to build him a great website and cross political boundaries whaaaaaaat?!?!?!

Nico picked us up and like he and Francesca ran at each other and tackled hugged and hugged like they’d been separated for years. It was so beautiful. We drove to Walmart and got some cough drops (ABSOLUTE NECESSITY) and mouthwash and last minute supplies and were off to Tahoe to load up. We had a lovely dinner and then moved into the RV, showered, slept and woke up at like 6am and headed to Black Rock City.

It took us about four hours to get to the gate and then the entrance experience began. We played Cards Against Humanity and had so much fun just hanging out and getting to know each other. We are awesome, obviously.

So you finally get in and then you have more work to do. Like a lot more. You have to build your house before the light goes, meet your neighbors, change your entire plan based on the direction of the wind, adjust, change, improvise, and physically kick ass because you are making your home for the next 8 days and it needs to be awesome. The sun goes down and you hear people howling across the desert and the lights come on. That sound is my heartbeat.

One of the most special parts of Burning Man for me was seeing myself as a doer and a maker and a person who could be involved in anything I wanted to do. Like physically building things, doing manual projects, coming up with solutions and efficiencies that helped the entire camp. I was blowing my own mind at how good I was at coming up with different ways to do things. I felt strong, powerful, USEFUL, and like not only was I going to get to have amazing experiences with people for this week, but that I built this city too.

We live in a world where we are sitting in offices at desks wearing uncomfortable shoes typing on computers all day doing jobs a lot of us hate. We are trapped in a cycle of buying things to make us happy, we stay with people we don’t love because we are lonely and afraid of this broken world.

Let me tell you something.

This world is not broken. You are not broken. If you feel lost, depressed, addicted, helpless, desolate, alone – get involved with your local Burner group. You are welcome, EVERYONE is welcome. Radical inclusion. People will teach you how to do anything you want to learn. You can build art. You are an artist. You are a human being and you are not your fucking job or your mortgage or your broken heart. You can do anything. That is what Burning Man is to me. It’s a giant mirror inside that took away my anxiety, my fear, my self doubt, and my grief. I am magical. I am alive. I can do anything. I can do everything forever.

This was what happened to me on the first fucking day of Burning Man. More to come…

BEHOLD THE BUILD OF CAMP HANDLE yo’ BIZNESS at 6:45 and HIGH RENAISSANCE