This is my 20th year at Burning Man. My Burniversary. My Burn Mitzvah.
My Black Rock City education is now longer than my formal education by a long shot.
I’ve spent more of my adult life as a Burner than not. (Some would argue that I never really grew up until I found Burning Man. Others would argue that Burning Man has forever stunted my growth.)
But, however you do the math, Burning Man is important to me.
Not the wooden effigy in the middle of the city, but the whole movement.
The 10 Principles and all they affect in Black Rock City and the world.
I’ve never purchased a new car. But I own a 1983 motorhome – painted pink – lined with fur.
I’ve never owned a house, but my name is on the lease of two 20 foot storage containers in Nevada, 2 huge storage units in San Diego and 2 outdoor storage lots (1 in California, 1 in Nevada).
I have no children, but have shared my heart with hundreds of campmates.
When I drive by an overloaded Civic heading east on the 110 with furry bikes strapped to the top, I know I’m passing family. When I see a dust-baptised pickup truck in a Reno casino parking lot, I know that my people are near.
If I ran into trouble, I wouldn’t hesitate to ask whoever was in those vehicles. They could look like midwest FBI agents or inner city gang members, but the cowboy hats and facial tattoos would be shallow decoration compared to the dust that coats their innards. No amount of vinegar-gargling or witch hazel-bathing can fully remove the Playa experiences that changes who we are inside.
My brother hasn’t attended the Burn in over 10 years. My Mom attended for just 3 days in 2014. But like the chicken pox or an alien abduction – one exposure can change you forever.
You only need to gaze upon the Grand Canyon for a moment before you know that you’ve been touched. I imagine a parent would say the same thing about first looking upon their child for the first time. And just like with parenting, a non-parent can never understand.
But my relationship with Burning Man is more like that of a lover. He/She/They are certainly their own fully formed and ever-evolving identity. They are impacted by my influence…but only slightly. Maybe it is a lover’s arrogance, but I think we are both better with each other than without.
With the exception of my my blood relatives, my relationship with Burning Man is the longest of my life. No romance has lasted even half that long. Only one partner survived me more than 5 years. But The 10 Principles have comforted me and stood by me for 20.
If I was the tattooing type, I might show my commitment on my skin. But words are more my thing. So I declare my love and commitment to Burning Man here.
And this year, on Thursday during the Pink Ride, I will embrace Radical Ritual and declare my love publicly in front of family and friends. I have officiated dozens of Playa Weddings, but this will be my first time as as a participant.
“Dearly beloved, we will gather in the dust to celebrate the union between Halcyon and Burning Man.”
Perhaps this is what the conservatives should have been worried about with the whole gay marriage momentum. Artists marrying entire communities!?! It’s scandalous! It’s perfect.
I hope you will say “I do.”
SAVE THE DATE: Thursday, noon at Pink Heart Camp (8 & Esplanade, during the Pink Ride) I’ll declare my vows and hug all who will have me. Consummation planned for later in the evening. Of course, this is just my interpretation of a Radical Ritual. I can’t wait to see yours!