A Virgin’s First Blush

Photo: Philippe Glade
Photo: Philippe Glade

Tuesday morning of my first Burn, I pedaled out to the Temple. Everyone I had ever spoken with about Burning Man always spoke with reverence about this, so I was curious. I am not a new age religious kind of guy, but my fiancé had lost her Mom recently and I thought that would be an appropriate way for me to express my personal loss. I also thought of it as a way to honor my relationship since I was there solo.

I parked my bike and entered the Temple. I was close behind a young woman who was topless wearing a tutu and furry boots. I am comfortable with nudity but really had not been around this type of openness recently. As we approached the magnificent sculpture in the center we both stopped. All of a sudden the woman’s shoulders started to quake, she fell to her knees and started to wail. I am talking about the “I just lost my son or daughter” type of open wound wailing. I was immediately ready to comfort her but held back, I am 63, she was scantily clad, I did not want to be that creep. Fortunately another young woman came and held her. It was huge jolt that brought me right into the moment. As I looked around I saw people hugging or weeping. I saw the shrines and felt the depth of quiet that happens in the Temple. I put up the picture I brought and wrote my words, tears streaming down my face. I wondered around reading about the common loss we all share, my emotions ebbing and flowing. It was a powerful experience and completely unexpected.

After I left I met up with my friend Dave, who had come out with me. I told him I wanted to ride out into the Playa as I needed a little time to pull myself together. We rode and looked at the art and were almost to the fence when I spied a gallows with a dummy hanging from it. I am not a fan of ironic art so I approached this piece with skepticism. Oh no, no irony here. On the upright was a small plaque with a can of pens. The plaque said something like “most of us have lost someone to suicide and probably wished we had said something, here is your chance”. I was completely blown away. I had lost someone to suicide and I did wish I had said more, so pen in hand I did.

I rode slowly back to camp thinking about how deep the water is here on the playa.

by Kenn

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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.

One comment on “A Virgin’s First Blush

  • lazy boy says:

    thanks for the share. i relate to it all, and i think most can. I just lost someone i knew to suicide. this story makes me want to go early and stay late to deeply feel the full emotional spectrum that burning man draws to the surface.

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