THE DAY THAT WOULD NOT END (I)
OK, so the party at our camp on Wednesday night/Thursday morning is not exactly a rager. My camp – the BRC Post Office version 2.0 – is a cheerfully mixed collection of people who, one by one, have come to the post office to volunteer over the past 10 years. It is a wonderful camp for me, in that everyone is very welcoming and over the course of the week I would always felt good coming back home.
But there are probably no more than 25-30 people at our party, which ran roughly from 2:00 am to dawn, and rarely more than about 10 at a time. This is actually great, as I get a chance to get to know most of my campmates, get the dirt on the histoy of the post office controversy, welcome the few friends of mine who have stopped by for the party, and generally get mentally adjusted to being in Black Rock City. Also, prior to coming to BRC, I had visited a member of our camp at the UCSF hospital the previous week – he was recovering from a difficult cancer surgery – and so I am happy to share the good news with everyone I met from the post office.
Anyway, our last guests depart soon after my virgin Adam, around 5:30 am, and though I have been talking about going to sleep for a couple of hours, I simply cannot make it happen. I am just too excited, too aware of the fact that it is already Thursday morning and I have just gotten here!
And so, as the first light of day begins to appear in the distance, I head out to see the Man with two members of my camp, a young couple who I have just met named Levi and McGee who impress me as being absolutely crazy (earlier in the morning, there Levi told us a crazy story about some guy who was hassling him at a bar, which ended with his girlfriend McGee beating the stranger up with her Birkenstock). We walk in spurts, stopping to hand out postcards, get hugs, and finally to watch the sun rise.
Now, I should say that there has to this point been a definite sense of comfort for me from the moment I arrived in Black Rock, partly because we arrived in daylight, partly because I know the layout of the city, and partly because I just kind of “get” a lot more Burning Man than I did my first time around.
But I only truly understand the concept of “Welcome Home” when I find myself standing on the playa with hundreds of strangers cheering as the sun rises that morning. Just thinkng about it brings me to tears.
When we get back to camp, there are a few of the Post Office crew, hereafter referred to as “posties,” standing in front of the façade of our camp (photos coming as soon as I can find them), giving away beer and mock insults to the people straggling home through the 9:00 plaza. Eventually we go next door to the Pancake Playhouse for breakfast. By this point, it is nearly 11 and I have given up on the prospect of sleep. Instead, I head off to visit some friends (note: the weather is just beautiful – not too hot – though we had already heard the horror stories about Monday dust storms).
There are a couple of my students and a few other friends that were allegedly camped nearby. However, I can’t find any of them today. Instead, while searching for someone’s camp, I pull up next to a familiar-looking RV to ask for directions and saw some familiar-looking people. Even though I had received Michelle’s note that Glenn and Kat would not be at the BURN this year, the address was 7:45 and E and from the street these people looked just like them.
Of course, it was not them. But these people are thrilled to have a visitor, especially one from a totally different demographic (at this point, I am my own demographic), and I spend the next couple of hours sitting there in their shade and visiting with them. They feed me, they water me, they ask good questions, the listen to stories and they laugh at jokes, and they tell me about themselves, their children (one of them is at SF State where I work), and frankly it is hard to leave these nice people (I even stopped by to check in on them a couple of days later).
Eventually, I make my way to the Blue Light District near center camp where my friend Big Cock (he wears a giant rooster costume when out and about in Black Rock City, and he’s quite a celebrity on the playa) is camping, and things get even more interesting. I meet a number of people, am given an unbelievably potent brownie, and am asked to deliver a postcard to someone’s friend to invite them to that afternoon’s party.
The postcard has an odd address – “c/o Marian Maiden” – and in fine postie fashion I go off to deliver to this place, which I am been told is right nearby. Turns out, however, that it is hell to get straight answers in my delivery process, and though I eventually find the right place, I am not able to make the delivery and end up missing a chunk of a chunk of the BLD party in the process.
When I get back to the Blue Light District, it is about 6:30 pm. Though I don’t realize it at the time, I am about to connect with my “posse” for the rest of the Burn. You guys would have loved them.