Burning Man, Day 1

i arrive early, packed and ready. there are things everywhere. all over the lawn, the backyard, spilling out of the front door and onto the porch. the bus is not even in front of the house yet. the bus we need to pack and drive away. people are moving slowly, and without apparent purpose. i am confused. i was told to be ready, that we would be leaving in an hour.
this is the conversation i have with myself:
type a, sit down and shut up. there is no need to be on time anymore.

several times, i hear the phrase, “it doesn’t matter. we’re on vacation”. it’s true. nothing matters anymore. we are on vacation now.

the bus is loaded. it takes several hours. it takes so long, we won’t be able to reach our first destination in time. we drive one half hour south. we stop at a shitty motel. we pile in, three to a bed. some of us sleep in our clothes.
this is the conversation i have with myself:
type a, get ready for all kinds of un-hygiene.

we get up, have breakfast, we get on the road. i miss my boyfriend terribly. i want to cry i miss him so bad. i read my book. i stare out the window and start many letters in my head to him.

there are arguments about the butterflies. where to put them. if we should put them. when we should put them. finally, we decide. we get the butterflies. we put them into the bus. we cram them into the bus. it takes all nine of us to get them in. we get them in. the sky clouds over. the air is cold and damp. soon, i think. soon. soon i will be under a merciless sky. soon the sun will bake my skin. soon i will be brown all over. soon i won’t remember the cold.

we arrive at our second hotel. i still don’t understand all the inside jokes. i am sad and i miss my boyfriend. i try whittling a crochet hook out of chopstick to keep my hands busy. it doesn’t work. i throw newly purchased yarn into a bag half full of oranges and forget about it. we sleep. we awake. we drive.

finally we arrive. the sun is hot. we are greeted by a smiling naked man and two diminutive women in black leather knee high boots and goggles. i am told to make an angel in the dust. i do as i am told. i am told to swing a metal rod at a bell and declare, “i’m a virgin”. i do as i am told. everyone tells us, smiling, “welcome home”. i don’t understand what they mean.
this is the conversation i have with myself:
type a, don’t think. just go with it.

we set up in the half-blinding wind. the sun is obscured by the dust. we are cranky. we are tired. we are arguing over the best way to get a tent up. we have forgotten to eat. we cannot tell if we should push on or give up and sleep on the bus.

we work till the sun goes down. we exhale heavily, in between gusts, confounded by the wind. we use makeshift weights to hold things down. we stand with our hands on our hips and we are pushed like sails and we survey, first our camp, then the distance. we estimate what time it is. we estimate how long it will take to set up the other shelters. we pace. we guard our eyes from the dust. we comment about last year’s wind. we calculate and re-calculate.

we eat. we take long swigs of water in between short sips of wine. we eat slowly, steadily. we slump in our chairs and lean against one another. we do not speak much except to thank our host for the food. we try to make jokes. we rest. we clean up. we stumble to our tents, to the bus, to the water truck. we try to find what comfort we can. we sleep.

this is the conversation i have with myself:
type a, this is where you will live for the next seven days.