Friday, September 6, 2013


Lots of Burners are walking around a little dazed right now - not because of hangovers or needing to detox, necessarily, but because coming back to reality is always a drag.  I first experienced "re-entry" at the Reno Airport when I overheard some middle aged matron with too much make up explaining to the little crowd of relatives surrounding her that Burning Man was a bunch of old hippies trying to recapture Woodstock - as if hippies are stupid and war with Syria is perfectly reasonable.  To be fair, she may not have known anything about Syria, or the endless war and ecocide that define our society here at the end of the empire.  None of the greeters at Walmart or Sephora told her.

The expression on my face must have been somewhere between Hostile and Violent because a dusty fellow with curly grey hair, who was on his way back to New Palz, looked into my eyes and smiled.  "Different World," he said.

photo by Michael Holden

This photo from Burning Man is my favorite right now because I'm trying to believe a lot of things.

Actually, that's not true - I'm trying to believe one specific thing and that's that Pinko will come to New York City.  Things between him and me went so well that I asked him to be the First Man in the New Apartment which is saying a lot because for two of the seven days we were together he was sick enough to be a surly crankasaurus.  No worse than any other crankasaurus, but he was still enough of a butt head when he was sick that I put away my fancy panties for the rest of the trip.  I figured he could put up with me in my jockey briefs.

For the record, my underwear was never an issue, and Pinko the Bear took very good care of me.

There was a lot of controversy and complaining in Illumination Village, where we lived, about our private portapotties.  They busted pretty early in the week, so folks were required to use one of the public banks of portapotties that were located three or four blocks from our camp.

Actually, they weren't nearly as bad as I had feared since they were pumped every morning and cleaned a couple of times a day.  Definitely BYO single ply toilet paper, but  any time I made the trek, attractive young men appeared from nowhere wanting to hug me.  It could have been worse.

As it happened, however, Pinko had contracted with Pump-Out service for his RV, and even though he was a day late, by Thursday afternoon I had a personal commode and could pee at will in blissful privacy.  I kept it a secret because most of our campmates still had to make that very long walk, and although I was concerned about creating an appearance of favoritism and/or causing a toilet riot - the fact is that sharing would have meant that the tank got filled up again so quickly that I might not have been able to use it.  Pinko didn't use it much himself.  He peed in a bucket outside or into a big empty juice jug.  Once when he was sick, before the pump-out service showed up, I had to carry that big old jug of pee all the way to the public portapotties.  Nobody hugged me that time.  I was wearing a long, black cotton floaty skirt, my head and torso wrapped in a sheer gauze shawl to prevent dust inhalation and sunburn, so I felt kind of like a subservient female in a fictional desert tribe.  Although I was annoyed on one level, on another it was kind of cool.

Burning Man is filled with prominent philosophical contradictions, such as the loud, official disdain for corporate sponsorship juxtaposed with images like this:

And for all the rhetoric about radical inclusion, you could count the people of color among the 65,000 residents of Black Rock City on one hand.  Truly - it should be called Middle Class White Rock City.  The population at Burning Man is more white and more privileged than Disney World.  And even though Burn Night itself, with splashy pyrotechnics and laser lights focused on an symbolic icon atop a central structure, distinctly resembles the moment at the Magic Kingdom when Tinkerbell slides through through the fireworks on a zip-line from the top of Cinderella's Castle over the heads of the assembled vacationers - somehow all this contradiction makes sublimely hilarious existential sense if you happen to be tripping.

I'm not saying that Pinko and I were running around the desert all night tripping on the stars, blinky lights, and the generally bizarre, artistic atmosphere - like when we wound up watching some giant flaming, flying puppets ushering in the birth of a walking, flaming T Rex puppet from the middle of bunch of rowdy DPW staff that Pinko knew since he'd on the early crew of DPW workers - I'm just saying that any philosophical contradictions are resolved when you open your mind enough to get the big picture.

Lizzy the T Rex, courtesy of the AfrikaBurn Fire Collective

Anyway - I had a really good time at Burning Man with Pinko. I especially liked watching the sun come up with him three or four mornings in a row from the fire circle in our front yard

Since I got back to New York, however, I've barely heard from him.  But I got home less than 72 hours ago.  That night we IMed for an hour since he was at the DPW depot and had internet access.  Since then, he's been processing re-entry in his own way.  It's harder for him, I suspect, because his living situation in Reno is less than ideal.  Some people might say Reno itself is less than ideal, but then I'm a snobby bitch from the 212 area code.  I love my happy little home in Harlem.  Velvet was home to meet me and help get my bags upstairs, and work has been exciting, busy and fun since I've got stimulating creative challenges this school year.

I remain convinced that he is the most generous, honest, open, related man that I've ever encountered.  He took excellent care of me in every way.  While most men find my intensity alarming, he seemed to be intrigued and attracted, only occasionally encouraging me to calm down. We have a remarkably similar sense of ethics and social justice, and perhaps more importantly, a remarkably similar sense of humor.

We've already successfully spent a week together in a 20 foot tin can - albeit with AC and my own personal potty - and for two of those days he was sick in bed.  That's why I invited him to come in October and stay through Thanksgiving.  If we're not really suited, we've both been around the block enough times to tell within a couple of weeks.  But if we can spend another five or six weeks together, it's game on.

I just hope he calls.


Kathleen said...

Welcome back! See you soon.

Lizzi said...

I loved reading this! It was so wonderful to have you camped in Sideshow with us. I hope to see you again next year.

Anonymous said...

Totally and Absolutely Fabulous Story!!! Am in total "shock and awe"...xoxo

Susan Partlan said...

Did you tell him about the blog?

Has he called yet? I'm dying to know!

PENolan said...

Susan - he knew about the blog and had read about himself on the blog before we met in person.
I hesitate to say "real life" since most people do not consider vacation, especially a vacation at Burning Man, to be real life.

I'm happy to say we're in consistent contact, which he often initiates, so I remain optimistic - although I will confess that this thing about spirituality is triggering my tendency toward depression. Always a challenge.

PENolan said...

Lizzi - I'm glad you followed the link and enjoyed.
Kathleen, I'll see you at DCW for sure
Jul, Shock and Awe?
I'm hoping that's a good thing ;)

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