Posted by: julia
on Sep 19, 2012
Sunday morning we drag ourselves out of bed and into awareness, slowly. There is a Camp Meeting at SSV before we begin the work of striking the camp (and packing up our own separate areas). We assembled in a big circle in the main courtyard, and spent some time listening to strike logistics, and some time on telling each other stories of our burn and giving appreciation to each other on the amazing sacred spaces we co-created for the playa. This was the first time I’d been in the same place as so many SSV’ers, and we were a pretty excellent bunch. (I regret not having spent more time with more people, but that’s the way it goes, sadly.) Finally all the volunteers for all the different strike activities trickled off to their duties (I spent the next couple hours sorting, dusting off and bagging pillows and cushions).
Eventually I straggled back to our Yaboogie pod, where Josh had been a busy bee breaking down and packing up our tent and other stuff. We spent all afternoon getting things packed up, until hardly anything was left. We “mooped” our area and some of the common areas (in other words, we went through and picked up every little piece of wood, every sequin, every carpet fiber, everything we could see on the ground that is not playa dust). Then Josh and I took the car and drove out to my flags on the playa, where we spent an hour or so taking them apart and packing them into the car. I was sad to take the flags down, but grateful that it had been a good run. We came back and finished up our packing along with everyone else. We exchanged contact info, signed each others’ memory books, and I had everyone sign the Yaboogie freak flag that hung from our shade structure all week. We took a break for our last meal together in the dining hall, which was also stripped down. The big structures were still standing, but the camp looked strange and bereft. All the landmarks were gone, and it was hard to navigate (just like the playa was hard to navigate without the Man and the other large art pieces we’d grown used to using as landmarks).
We put on our last bits of blinky and then those of us still left went off to see the Temple burn. We sat in a section of people who shushed the occasional hoot and holler (at one point the “shhhhhh’s” moving over the crowd sounded like ocean waves). At one point someone started chanting “ommmmmm” and the chant was picked up by hundreds of people, then died away. This was a much quieter, more solemn experience overall; when the Temple finally began to burn, it started quietly in the courtyard, no fireworks, just flames. Clouds of ash sprinkled with glowing bits billowed off into the dark sky, taking everyone’s prayers, memories, and grieving off into the night towards the still full moon.
Posted by: julia
on Sep 16, 2012
Saturday is the big day at Burning Man, the day that everything else is leading up to: it’s the night they burn the Man and the city pulls out all the stops for the big party night. But we started that day out slowly, just hanging around the shade structure of our Yaboogie pod and chilling with our pod-mates and other visitors. It felt like a great group of friends had coalesced around Yaboogie, and even with all the other memorable shiny happy stuff that I encountered on the playa, I have to say hanging out in camp will always be one of the overall highlights of this burn for me. I really enjoyed the “front porch” feel that our little camp had manifested, where people flowed in and out of our common area. We’d sit there chatting, and people would come by and visit, for long whiles or little whiles, but always they brought something good to the visit. We grew to expect certain people to come by (the Yaboogie “regulars”, those who, even though their tents weren’t right next to ours, wouldn’t pass us by without a visit).
At one point Siri (aka Comfort Zone) brought by a pineapple filled with frozen alcoholic fruit smoothie, which everyone got to try. The men with mustaches looked funny with leftover smoothie on their faces, so I started taking pictures of everyone in the pod drinking from the pineapple. It was silly at the time, but that series of pictures is one I treasure now, because it reminds me of our pod. I didn’t get a picture of everyone, sadly, but at least I got some.
Posted by: julia
on Sep 14, 2012
Friday morning after our sunrise Temple visit, I managed to grab a few hours of sleep before our tent got too hot. I had to get up anyway to go do my final SSV Temple Guardian shift with Anjanette. I was tired, but not unhappy—in fact I felt pretty relaxed and mellow, which was just the right space to be in for serving as a Temple Guardian. This time Anjanette was the greeter, and I was the one who “held the space”. In addition to my cool crystal Guardian staff, this time I also had a big beautiful hand-tied sage bundle that the previous Guardian gave me, which I used to smudge the whole interior space and all the doorways, as well as various guests who asked me for it. Most of the shift I stood in the middle of the interior courtyard space with my hands on the staff and my feet rooted firmly on the earth, swaying back and forth to the music a little. I felt very solemn and present and powerful. Several times random people came up to me and thanked me for holding the sacred space, which was really gratifying. At one point a shaman who was leading a workshop in our Nigredo dome (temple of primordial forces and transformation) came out and asked me to make sure to be aware of keeping things held in light because they were doing a workshop on Dark Deities and she wanted to make sure that no one would sabotage it. I wasn’t entirely sure what she meant or how to respond, but I just kept trying to project love and light and protection out around me and towards everyone who entered. Towards the end of my shift, SSV played an audio presentation built around a previously unpublished speech by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., from his early days. It really touched me, even though now I can’t clearly remember any of the specifics. It definitely reminded me yet again though that I want to read more of King’s writings, listen to more of his speeches and study what he had to say more deeply. He was an incredible man.
After our Guardian shifts were finally over, Anjanette and I went back to our Yaboogie pod to change and chill out a bit, then eventually decided that we would go out into the city again, with the eventual goal of visiting my flags and changing the batteries. When we set out it was getting dust-stormy again, so rather than set out across the playa we decided to bike through the city. The dust conditions combined with my general lack of sleep was making me a little grumpy, but then we serendipitously came upon a camp serving shave ice and once I had some of that, my mood improved tremendously. There is very little better than having unexpected sweet cold treats in the middle of a dusty hot place! Anyway after fortifying ourselves with shave ice we continued on through the city. The dust got worse and worse, until by the time we got to my flags, it was nearly a white out. But we were no strangers to whiteout conditions at this point, so we just kept going like the blasé burners we had become. This led to one of my favorite whiteout memories: as we were struggling with the batteries, we heard the BMIR radio station camp across the Esplanade from where we were start to play “Dust In the Wind”. We sang and danced as we changed those batteries, and it was awesome.
After that we headed over to look for Angela and Liam, who were staying in a camp called “Dye With Dignity” that was part of the infamous Barbie Death Camp (I have to say I did not like the whole concentration camp aesthetic of Barbie Death Camp). She wasn’t there, so we headed over a different camp to see if we could find Chris, a friend of Anjanette’s. She wasn’t there either, so we gave up and biked back through the city towards SSV. On the way we saw lots of fun camps and a really neat art installation of hundreds of thin strips of ribbon suspended from archways of PVC pipe that you could ride your bike through (it felt like a carwash). We stopped to have “ice cold lemonade” (with vodka shots). We probably did other stuff too but whatever it was is now lost in the mists of memory. I do remember that I was getting pretty sore (especially in my delicate lady parts) from riding my bike over bumpy dusty roads, and I was glad when we made it back for dinner. There was a beautiful sunset that night with leftover rainclouds and dust in the air.