I squeezed in a few hours of sleep on Thursday morning, and then blearily got up and changed into my pink outfit and tried to get myself together to go on the pink ride. Josh was anxious and bugging me about being ready on time and I felt rushed and cranky from the heat and the lack of sleep so we wound up fighting with each other in one of those classic playa breakdown moments. Unfortunately the Pink Ride wound up leaving without us and Josh didn’t want to go try to catch up to it so we stayed at camp and argued some more until we worked it out, and then decided to go out to the Temple. On the way there we stopped to see Mucaro, which was a big wooden owl sculpture that on the inside was an unexpectedly sweet tribute to teachers and education. Earlier in the week you could climb all the way up and look through the owl’s eyes out at the playa, but by the time we got there on Thursday the upper part of it was closed off, apparently because someone had fallen and hurt themselves. (There are a lot of potentially dangerous ways to hurt yourself out there at Burning Man if you’re not careful, and many people are, shall we say, not their most sober and careful selves while they’re there. It’s always a bummer when someone hurts themselves, but it’s also a bummer for those of us who then lose access because of someone else’s carelessness or disregard.) Still, it was pretty cool, and beautifully built.
Once we got to the Temple, Josh and I split up. He had some heavy processing to do about his Dad’s illness and decline, so I gave him some space and went wandering around feeling my own feels (not to mention those of the hundreds of other burners that were there feeling their own feels or the thousands who had already been there and left their emotional residue hanging about). I had a box of forgiveness letters that my friend Eileen (who leads beautiful workshops and retreats focusing on Forgiveness) had given me to place at the Temple to be burned, so I did that first and then I came upon a guy doing some sound healing with crystal bowls and hanging chimes, so I stood there for a little while listening to that. During and after that I let myself do some quiet reflecting about the time I’d spent at the Temple last burn trying to process my Year of Living Cancerously, and how far I’d come and how much better I felt since then—although I also had to reflect on how much was still hanging around messing with me, and how much more complicated and time-consuming both healing and grieving were turning out to be. I still wasn’t feeling totally comfortable with my new, “modified” body, and struggling with the ways in which parts of me still felt “broken” or shifted away from how I once was, and with how I wasn’t “done” with the cancer experience, even though I was supposedly physically healed. I wrote a couple more things on the Temple walls (“Fuck off cancer and never come back” and “Hey boobies, I still miss you”) and then I sat for a bit and just let the feels wash through me.
While I was sitting there I was noticing a lovely older woman with a massage chair not far away from me giving out massages to people, and I started thinking about how I would love to have a massage (which is one of the regular tools I use for self-care at home) and maybe if I went closer she would notice me and offer me one. Then I thought to myself “hey, if you want to take care of yourself, be proactive. Don’t wait for others to see you want or need help, ask for what you need.” So I went over to her and asked her if I could be next. And she said “sure!” I felt pretty good about that (and it was a lovely massage). Josh came by and found me just as I was about to sit down on the chair, and he patiently waited for me to be done. After it was over I thanked the masseuse (whose name I am forgetting) and we left the Temple in a solemn, quiet mood.
We headed back to camp because Josh wanted to take a shower before he had to help get ready for the fancy camp dinner (called “Grace”) that evening—he had brought a shit ton of tri-tip and was going to be grilling it up for everyone for the dinner that night.
So I joined Josh again for another shower (I had more showers this burn than I think I’ve ever had before) and changed my clothes again and spent some fun time fooling around in frontage and taking some pictures with Anji, Mom, MissyKat, Aimee and other friends at various art installations in front of camp like the Playa Barbie box and the heart arch.
Finally the sun was setting and it was time for Grace and it was just so lovely. A lot of hard work went into making a beautiful PHamily experience for us to share. Some campmates had made low playatech tables and other campmates had made pretty place settings for everyone and other campmates had made an insane amount of delicious food in several courses and even yet other campmates had volunteered to serve that delicious food to the rest of us and clean up afterwards. We even had beautiful classical music played live on viola and flute by Lorenzo and Adrian. There were tablecloths and (electric) candles on the tables and the whole scene was just so pretty and loving. I kept looking around at all of us so relaxed and open and feeling so lucky and happy to be a part of this pink fuzzy group. We took our time and ate and drank and hung out together and it was glorious.
I don’t remember much else that evening but I suspect there was a lot of hanging around with campmates in both the front and back of camp. I do know that I was still pretty tired so I went to bed fairly early but set an alarm so I could wake up and go sit in the frontage and see Mucaro burn at midnight. That burn was gorgeous--fast and beautifully executed (it was clear that whoever had built it had been aware of how it would burn...each part of it easily slumped down into the next so that it stayed compact and controlled even while burning bright and furious). After that I went back to bed, though Josh and some other people went to go see the Phoenix Rising burn at sunrise. I knew I needed the sleep though, and I was trying to be good about self-care, after all.