On the Road: My First Burn
Exactly two years ago from this friday I couldn’t sleep. I’d packed my car the night before, then unpacked it, packed it again. Now I was laying on pins and needles, staring at my ceiling and wondering. I checked my watch. I had to be up in six hours (then five, then three) and go pick up two of my camp mates scattered at the ends of North Seattle. We were going to burning man. After 13 years, I was finally going and I was too excited to sleep.
At my eyes shot open with the first rays of sun peaking through my window…I was supposed to have left by now! I scrambled for my phone. It was 4:30 and what I had taken for sun light was the lights of a passing car…nothing more. There was no use trying to go back to sleep, it was burn time. I ate my breakfast, put on my traveling clothes and stepped out into the cool morning air that was just beginning to smell like fall. Today would be hot, the drive long, the company…who knows. I’d known one of my camp mates, Anthony, for several years and considered him a good friend. The other passenger in my car I had only met the once. I didn’t know if we’d like each other after being stuck in a car for…who knows how long, but the better part of a day at least. Long road trips were nothing new to me. I’d spent my teens going from one race to another in the sub-arctic conditions of the cascades, sierras and rockies during the winter, but this was my first road trip without something familiar waiting for me at the other end. I was excited—who wouldn’t be—but also a little afraid. What if I was different when I came back? What if everything was different?
We met up under the 65th park and ride just north west of green lake and that was the last time I’d see my family for over a week.
As we traveled down the road in our caravan, we were joined here and there by other convoys of Burners headed towards our sometime-desert-home and with each addition that pulled onto the highway I felt a sense of something rising in me, a sense of team, of family, of companionship and purpose. We were going. Not I. We. We were a tribe on the march toward something greater than all of us, made of all of us…a city blooming in a waterless desert born of human ingenuity and creativity.