This story is about twelve years old.
One day a friend and I were standing outside The Artery when we approached by a 25 year old woman in flowered & flowing gowns. She was radiant and owned an awesome smile.
“I grew up here,” she sputtered with a certain conviction to us and to everyone who could hear. I giggled, thinking, “I grew up here too.”
But there was power and authenticity to her claim. My friend, a wise historian and archivist asked, “How is that so? Many Burners claim to ‘grow up’ here?”
“Well,” she began to explain, “when I was three years old, my dad and a bunch of his friends began to come up here every summer from Los Angeles for a week or so, so this was where we took our summer vacation until I was about ten. We would camp someplace out here.”
She had our attention and continued, “One day, I guess I was around three or four years old, I felt that none of the adults were paying any attention to me. I thought I would go for a hike and discover those mountains over there. Dad and his friends were sitting in the shade of our vans so I began to walk to the mountains. After a few steps, I looked back and dad and all his friends were simply looking at ME! I realized in that instant, that out here in the Black Rock Desert, I could do and be whatever I wanted, if I was safe!”
Before we could say “WOW!” she went on. “About five years ago I was driving home to LA from Oregon and I decided to take the back roads and come via Black Rock Desert to see my old playground. I was heading south on Hwy 447 over there and came around this bend north of here, and I looked out to ‘MY PLAYA’ and saw all these lights and flashes of explosion. I thought, ‘What the fuck is going on?’ So I pulled in and bought a ticket and have been coming back every year since.”
Before we could get back to the first “WOW!” she went on, breathlessly: “When I left, as soon as I could get in cell range, I called my dad and said, ‘You’ll never guess what’s going on out here in Black Rock Desert!'”
We giggled excitedly, cause we knew what was coming next, and even as I write this I get some chills.
“Now my dad is out here and this is our fourth year at Burning Man together.”