Robin's Further Adventures at Burning Man, Part II

(Editor's Note: This is the second part of a six-part diary posting covering the Burning Man Festival in Nevada, which ended earlier this week. To read the series from the beginning, please go here.)

by R. J. Forman

By the time I hit Sacramento before Burning Man, I’d been up and traveling for more than ten hours. This is after a six-day, 60 hour work week complete with covering a vice presidential announcement at 2:00 in the morning.

None of that matters now.

I’m going home.

Home to the Playa, to the dust, to the art, to the music, and, most importantly, to the people.

Home to where my heart goes — even without my body — every time it needs healing.

We load up our painted school bus (yes, this is round two of the painted school buses for me) and we head out as the orange California sun begins its descent behind the mountains and the traffic.

After an unimaginably long trip to the Wal-Mart and the WinCo Foods in Reno, I drift in and out of sleep until I am fully awoken by the sun rising in pale yellow splendor over the Black Rock Desert.

I have formed a bond in femininity and Burning Man veteranship with the women aboard the bus.

Elana, a lithe, pretty, California-beach-blonde, and I have formed a team for vegetarian meals and by the end of the week we part as true friends.

After setting up camp and a makeshift shade shelter in ten hours of white-out dust storms, we have a collapsed tent and I have two new roommates: a blithe, red-headed woman named Paulette and her incredibly collected and mature 19-year-old daughter, Lexi.

Two other women, virgin burners, Angela and Jessica, make up our “Chick Pack” — our six-pack of five women plus me — that I rove around with.

And just like Cyndi Lauper sang the girls and I “just want to have fun.”

But by day two there’s a schism and negative energy is growing in our camp.

The boys are new to this.

The ideas of communal living, giving and sharing seems lost on them.

One, the owner of the bus, lets Paulette have it in front of me and her daughter. He goes off about the girls using his bus for shelter to change their clothes.

I am witnessing the spat as I hold a scarf in my hands trying to figure out if I should tie it into Lexi’s hair or jump into the fight.

The mama bear in me wins.

Suddenly, I’m at the defense for Paulette and all the other girls, prattling off something about the rest of us being used to community and giving and then going out of my way to make the boy look like a prick by offering up my tiny, now three-person crowded tent to everyone for changing purposes.

This is lesson one for me.

The mama bear in me will always spring to action when one of my female cubs is under any threat.

Lesson two: That’s not a bad thing.

(To read this series from the beginning, please go here. To read the next part in the series, please go here.)

(The photo shows the campsite of Robin's group at Burning Man. The photo is © copyright Jay Heffeman and is used with permission. To see a short video of the first day of dust storms at Burning Man 2008, please check below.)

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