Two years and a compliment

I was no stranger to the Black Rock Desert. But now I was to experience my first Burning Man and live in Black Rock City for a week.

It was one of those dust storm days when you really couldn’t go anywhere to get out of it unless you went into your vehicle or out on the playa. So, I chose the playa. I got on my bicycle, fully intending to do some nude sun bathing. A luxury I seldom do and only in private. I had on a tank top, shorts and shoes with no underwear. Rode out on the playa, stripped, laid down and was enjoying just being out there listening to the silence, being happy about where I was and what I was doing.

I heard some noise above my head and sat up to see what it was. The wind surfer going by paid no attention to me as he was busy getting himself across the playa. As I sat there I looked between my feet and saw a man walking directly toward me. I thought, now what do I do? If I stand up he will see that I am naked. If I just sit here maybe he will just go by. But, he kept coming directly at me. So I crossed my legs to cover my private places and folded my arms to cover my breasts. He came right up to me and stood a safe distance away. We started to talk. His name was Zackary, 27 years old from Colorado. He was at BM with his girlfriend and a group of friends. I invited him to sit down. After a very short time I realized he was a little too far away from me to hear him clearly so I got up walked over to him and sat down. Yes, I was still naked as a Jay bird.

We got into a very deep conservation about our feelings. He felt no one listened to him. They didn’t take him seriously. He was always being challenged. I think I understood him because I was the same way. At my age this still happens. Even having the “courage” to go to BM was a big step for me. We cried together and I put my arms around him as he sobbed on my shoulder.

I asked him why he walked up to me. “I don’t know. Something just drew me to you.” He told me he works with problem youngsters. He looks forward to the day he can have his own outdoor training center for young people with issues.

I shared some of my lesbian life, loves, and my professional journey in the corporate world. When I told him I was going to be 68 next month he said “Well, for someone who is almost 70, you’re looking pretty good”. I aged two years and got a compliment in the same sentence.

We stood up, embraced tightly, wished each other well and he walked away. I sat down to reflect on what has just happened. Perhaps we were able to talk to each other on such a revealing level because we knew would never see each other again. I just hope he got as much out of it as I did.

Where else but at Burning Man? This is just one of the many times this week when you knew Black Rock City held something special for any one of us 41,000 people living in a giving community.

by w

About the author: Tales From the Playa

Tales From the Playa

Tales From the Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by participants. Submit your story here.

10 Comments on “Two years and a compliment

  • Harinama says:

    Wow, this really touched me. I’ve been trying to think of why, after 7 straight years, i should go to BRC this year.

    Not for the music, not for the art, not for the desert, not for the partying or the dancing, not for the 10 principles, not because i do a themecamp, not to let off steam, or meditate or “find my inner child”.

    I go to Burning Man to meet people like you, who have also had a hard life, learned lessons along the way and are not afraid to share.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Take away the art, take away the music. Take away the theme camps, the dayglo absinthe slushies, the giant plush toys and the sparkly playa bunnies. Remove the nice desert setting, take away the partying, the firedancing, the costumes and the all nite raves. Take all that away, and I’ll still come. Why? I come to burning man for the PEOPLE, simple as that! Everything else is just icing on the cake.

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  • This is a keeper! Good info! Interesting, clear and precise. Congratulations again on a good job Tales.

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  • Flabio says:

    Definitely a keeper! Great story W, and touching comment Harinama.

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  • Phoenix says:

    Beautiful story. Very touching. Thank you for sharing!

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  • Willow says:

    This. This explains what I can’t, when people ask about Burning Man. Yes – I see amazing art, awesome lights, fantastic happenings. But the things that I remember year after year, the things that stand out as the BEST things – are the people I meet, the moments and conversations with strangers who walk away as friends.

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  • Palay Nai`a says:

    We all adore living in Hawai`i because, in addition to being Paradise (which one mostly stops noticing after ten years here), thereʻs the aloha. I so appreciate this story! Iʻm the same age and this will be my fourth consecutive burn. My second one changed my life and it was because of one burner. I hope to be inspired to share that, too…

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  • Emiluz Picante says:

    Thank you for sharing your story about being a citizen at BRC. I second the comments from Harinama that all the art and creative outpouring is frosting on the cake of the people and their open hearts at BRC! I will be attending my second Burn this year, shortly before turning 60. I do look forward to releasing my Inner Child and the absinthe slushies etc. however it is the attitude adjustment that draws me back!

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  • Pando says:

    Lovely anecdote on what is quintessentially Burning Man. Thank you for this! YAY!

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  • Jean Brown says:

    I wish I could find Zackery this year and find out how his dreams turned out.
    Zackery if you read this please visit me at 8:45 and Laissez-faire. White VW.
    “W” – the author of the tale.

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  • michele says:

    2011 Was My First Burn- Yeah I was a Virgin!! The Nite The Trojan Horse Burned… I met up with some Super Nice People. They owned the Mutant Vehicle:I don’t know it’s name it was Bright Primary Colors/Painted like a Kids Toy Train It was Beautiful!!! But what was even better:They trusted me (someone they did not even know )to sit up on top during the BURN!!! I WAS SAFE!! I TOOK AMAZING PICTURES!!! I had the most amazing view!!! I am only 5’1’Usually my view is fairly limited!!! I will never forget that nite or there Kindness!!! I said “Thank You” But I don’t think they had any idea what I was saying!!! THANKS!!!! SO MUCH!!! I WILL NEVER FORGET THAT NIGNT!!!

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