Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Land of the Free

I'm back. We're back!

I'll be doing a longer Burningman post in a few days, but here's a tidbit:

The Playa many different things. It's almost impossible to say "we had fun." Although, that's most likely the stock answer I will give. But I'm not sure if "fun" is the applicable word here.

We did have fun. Definitely. We also cried a bunch. We were hungry a lot. We were miserable a lot. We laughed a lot.

Burningman for me was not a magical experience. I'm not sure I'll ever go back and I definitely will not be one of those people who call the Playa "home."

Home is Chicago.

But oh holy hell did we learn so much. The good parts? Friendliness, hugs, interest in other people, a world where people take responsibility for their actions, art, creativity, the human condition...two huge things that came out of it for me were:

1. Enjoying other people: I think this is especially hard for us city folk, even today as I practiced looking people in the eye and saying hello was really difficult. I realize I can't bring the whole experience back with me, but to even see the other people in my world is hard. We put our heads down so easily. It's shocking. In the desert you smile at everyone. A trip to the bathroom takes 20 minutes because you chat with your neighbors on the way. Everyone wants to help everyone's good time - people yell at the people on the art cars and the people on the art cars clap for the people on bikes. It's not about envy in anyway. Whatever I can do to help your life be easier or more fun, I want to do that for you - that's not a common Hixx trait.

2. Enjoying the world around me: Everything (most things) at Burningman require interaction. You can drive by a million art pieces but you don't know what they're for until you're off your bike and playing with it. It's not enough to look, this world requires participation. I want to have more fun with the world around me, play with it, question it, make it work another way.

The desert was tough, the dust was tough, the heat and the sun and the noise (it's all techno music 24/7, it really got under my skin) and the people - you know, sometimes you just want to go to the bathroom.

And the tales of decompression, of how hard it is to come back to the world. It wasn't hard for me, granted, my head is still in a lot of crazy places - but money and consumerism is a wonderful thing. I know I know, unpopular, but true. You always know where you stand with money, people are a whole different matter.

And sometimes, you have to admit, no matter how hard you wish it were another way, that maybe you're just not that type of person. Maybe the Playa isn't your home and you're not kissing the playa dust on your way in. Maybe some of the hypocrisy and cynicism of Burningman is just too much to ignore and maybe you should have remembered to bring chairs, instead of sitting on the hot dust.

Did it change me? Hell yes. Am I stronger? Absolutely. Am I glad we went? I'm getting there. Am I going again? Most likely not, unless you take me along in your fancy RV loaded up with hot dogs.

Most of all I'm happy to be home. So many trips away for me bring on a longing for my own city, this trip was no different. Chicago is home. My husband is home. My dog is home. And finally, I am home.

This is me and Harp as far out on the Playa as you can get

The Burningman crotch

The hard part


Kate said...

You did it! Glad you made it home safely and glad you had an experience that really made you think. Yay!

Dan Izzo said...

Can you bring an RV full of hotdogs? If so, I'm totally there.

Hendo said...

It sounds like a real awesome experience, even if you never go back. I had some similiar experiences, and they changed me a lot for a little while, but when the surface changes wore off, I realized that some subtler changes stuck with me (and are still with me) 25 years later. Sometimes when you are forced to look at yourself and your world, you are changed in ways that cannot be erased.

Maybe that change for you is basically your "Dorothy" moment... there's no place like home.

So what if Playa isn't for you? If it was for everyone, then EVERYONE would go to Burningman year after year after year. Clearly, it's not. It's not a judgement, and it doesn't make you a better or worse person than those that "kiss the dust of Playa."

I'm glad you're back, and I hope to see you Saturday night!


Hixx said...

Thanks guys for all the nice messages! Dan, if you went with an RV filled with hot dogs, I would be there in a second.

And Hendo, you're totally right on! And yes, we'll see you Saturday!