Burning Man Reflections

Unfortunately, it already seems like it was quite a long time ago.

The trailer we lived in is still sitting in our driveway, however, so it can’t have been that long since we arrived home, dusty and exhausted. We returned my uncle’s truck, after an inadequate washing. Dad is using MP money to have it detailed for my uncle.

This year, Burning Man was great. It was hard in many ways, but experiencing the difficulties of it and enjoying it anyway was a good reminder to me that I like to be challenged on many levels, including physically.

I love the new friends we made; I only wish I had had more time with them (without the boy). In a way, it felt like I was two different people at Burning Man. I was Mommy, concerned with helping Lucas navigate the weirdos, new people, and the environment; get enough water, electrolytes, and sleep; and have a series of fun-for-him and safe experiences so he’d enjoy himself and make life easier on all of us. But later in the week, after he left, I was my unfettered self and that was hugely fun.

We balanced 4.5 days/4 nights with Lucas on the playa with 2 days/2 nights by ourselves. I’m glad we did it that way, because many rewards were had at the end of the week, when my responsibility level was reduced and I could be myself. Plus, Ian and I got to be together without work, without school, without computers, books, or Lucas to distract us from each other and our friends. That was positively glorious. (So much of our daily Default lives are spent doing routine and tedious tasks, which are often segregated into his jobs and my jobs.)

Also, I’m pleased to report that Lucas weathered the time away from us well. My parents said he did great, didn’t get too sad from missing us except once or twice, and had a lot of fun. (They took him downtown on Saturday to the Railroad Museum and they rode the steam train. Lucas swam a lot, too, diving for his new rings. The swimming must have been nice after all that heat and dust! He even got to visit his other grandma for a couple of hours on Sunday.)

The biggest challenge about being pregnant on the playa was having to pee so often. Stupid baby is sitting right on top of my bladder, which necessitated frequent trips to the potties. THANK GOD and DAD that we had the trailer—I used the little potty in it at night, 6-7 times a night. Without it, I think I might have been ready to come home on Wednesday! Well, maybe the biggest challenge was the dust. Or the heat. Or the noise. Or not being allowed to drink desert cocktails with friends. Well, I suppose there were many challenges, but having to pee all the time was right up there at the top of the list!

I had my first-ever art car ride this year. An older woman named Eleanor and her adult son Rob (Australian, we think) stopped their giant solar-powered tricycle named Daisy to let us have a ride. I think they stopped to pick up Lucas because he was so damned cute on the playa with his hat and sunglasses and little camelback on with the hose permanently inserted in his mouth. Ian and I got to ride on Daisy just ‘cuz we were with the kid. We all climbed about 15 feet into the air on a ladder to the platform where we could sit and ride. Daisy was tall and graceful and completely silent as she moved. Later in the week, Ian and I got to ride on the Purple Palace, too. It was nighttime and lovely, but a little chilly. (I found myself wishing that night that I had more caffeine in my blood and that the air were about 15 degrees warmer.) Anyway, later in the week we ran into Eleanor and her husband on the esplanade. They had laid out two light strips on the esplanade and were harrassing anyone who walked in between the lights. “Excuse me, this is a private road. Can you please walk elsewhere?” “I’m sorry, but you’ll have to move aside this is a private road.” I embraced Eleanor and said, “But Eleanor, it’s us! Surely you’ll welcome Ian and Sara onto your private road.” She and her husband gave us wish elephants to put under our pillows as gifts.

So, yeah. Completely. Sober. At Burning Man. That was a little weird, I have to admit. Although Ian and I have not had a drink for more than two years, somehow on the playa I really badly missed drinking cocktails with my friends! Perhaps it’s because I am pregnant and it’s always harder to forego something yummy when it’s forbidden to you. I feel deprived of the things that I’m not allowed to have (sushi, booze, certain letters of the Alphab-t). Because of the lack of any stimulants and booze, and because Lucas was with us much of the week, I actually got more sleep this year than I have had in any previous year at Burning Man. Frankly, I had a hard time staying up very late without any chemical assistance, despite the noise and fun. One giant coffee at about 11 p.m. would have fixed that, but since my son was up at 7 each morning, we refrained from the jolt.

We never managed to get Lucas to nap during the day while we were there. It was just too hard for him to shut out all the stimuli and go to sleep during the hot and noisy part of the day. All of his crankiness and stress and bad behavior came out while we were trying to rest, including rough hands that hurt me and made me cry. We had hoped to try to keep his schedule more-or-less normal and have naps, so that we could stay up later in the cool evening. Alas, it didn’t work that way. I was much happier on Thursday, his last day there, when we didn’t even try to lie down together. We just went out on a bike-riding adventure in the afternoon instead. Not napping meant that Lucas wasn’t really able to stay awake later than 10 or 10:30 p.m. I’m happy we brought his stroller along, because in the evenings after dinner, we walked out into the night to see the sights, and lights, and people. When he finally crashed, he was safe in his stroller. I’m glad he didn’t crash while riding on his tag-along bike behind Agent Daddy. Getting him home to our trailer in that case would have been a nightmare.

The weather was beautiful. Warm and sunny, sometimes hot during the day, but not always uncomfortably so. Windy and dusty toward sunset. Warm evenings that turned cold around 10 or 11. I’m told we slept through one beautifully balmy night, which is too bad. It was warm enough at night to wear fun clothes (but not no clothes). I honestly don’t know how some girls wear next to nothing: but then I’m not high and raving all night long, or playing with fireballs. Maybe that will be me in my 40s, when I leave my kids at home for the week, join the fire conclave, dread my hair, and dance with fire all night, every night.

An eye-opener occured on Wednesday. I watched Lucas put two pieces of information together and the light of understanding dawn in his eyes. He figured out that he would be leaving Burning Man on Friday morning, and that the Man was to burn on Saturday night. He would miss seeing the Man burn. He surprised me by realizing this fact, and then again when he burst into tears over it. He REALLY wanted to see the man burn. It was important to him, and he was really heart-broken over it. It was so sad! We promised to let him watch the Man burn on the computer when we got home. And we’ve had to promise a number of times that next time we all go to Burning Man, he will get to stay and see the Man burn.

It was très weird leaving the playa on Friday morning at 11 and driving to Boomtown to drop Lucas with my parents (2.5 hours away). We met in a Chevron parking lot and then had lunch at the Boomtown restaurant. I just have to say: Nevada sucks. Smoking indoors is trippy and awful. And casino people just seem so damned pathetic. My aristocratic upbringing made me scornful of the whole scene and everyone in it. Especially since it was so highly contrasted with the beauty and honesty and austerity and extravagance and grace of the Black Rock desert and all that is Burning Man. Everything about the casino (and all the local places we stopped in the greater Reno area) seemed so desperate. Anyway, Lucas took the farewell way better than I did. He bravely said goodbye with a kiss while we assured him over and over again that Mommy and Daddy would come home for him in a couple of days. I cried while we drove away back toward BRC. (Funny how 8 solid days and nights with Lucas will make a goodbye seem so tragic and sorrowful, but during our regular life, I can send him off to school each morning without a pang.) I was worried that he’d feel neglected and abandoned, but according to my parents, he did just fine that weekend.

I have more to say, more Burning Man thoughts and experiences to share, but I have to stop for now and leave them for another installment.

2 Responses to “Burning Man Reflections”

  • kimkimkaree
    September 15, 2006 at 5:00 pm

    So glad you decided to camp with us and it was wonderful having the whole family there followed by just the three of you 😉 I admire your bravery and competent parenting skills. But most of all I admire your pole dancing skills.


  • sarabellae
    September 16, 2006 at 1:28 pm

    Thank you for the kudos. We were happy to camp with everyone; it would have been a very experience otherwise! Pole dancing? I’m not sure I know what you’re referring to…


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  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I’m Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

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    “Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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