In 1993 my girlfriend and I were in a photography class together. A woman in class had photos of this thing in the desert. There was this giant wooden structure in the shape of a man with a couple of hundred people circled around it. She said that at the end of the weekend they burned the structure. We both were very intrigued. After an onslaught of questions by the two of us we found out nothing from the woman, like she was trying to keep it a secret.
Living in the city we would hear things about this event but it was still elusive. In 1995 we were ready. We had the info, we had tickets and we had the desert survival know-how. As soon as we arrived on the playa my girlfriend wanted to participate in some way. I just wanted to experience the desert. Within the next year she was involved in the event and has since become one of the integral parts of making it happen.
Me, I kept going but never fully got it. In 1997, I got engaged on the playa, to a different woman. We would go for a few years and then I stopped. After going through a very emotional divorce I returned to the playa. It was 2004.
It wasn’t until I went to burning man alone that I truly started participating. In 2005 I went to the temple burn. That was the pivotal moment for me. I saw a few thousand people stand silent in front if the blaze. The looks on the faces were amazing. I think I looked at every one of them. Behind me somewhere a bag piper started playing Amazing Grace. Aside from seeing my daughter being born it was one of the most amazing moments of my life. The emotions that were trapped in me were released all at once. I wept while holding the hand of a woman I didn’t know sitting next to me.
As the fire died down and the crowd started to disperse I got off the art car and began to walk back across the darkness to my camp. I walked for a few minutes, then sat on the playa and wept again.
I have gone to BM every year since and have met so many new friends from all over the world. I look forward just like I did the very first time. I hope to bring my daughter in a few years so I can share some of what I’ve gotten from being a burner.