september, 2009

Thu, 10 Sep 2009 19:23:48 -0700

Familiarity for me, I think, is social. When Joanna drove by on the back of an art car, misting me before she recognized me; when Sean in his furry vest and goggles spotted me outside the fire-spinning platform; when Cody in a red wig was effusing about his first burn atop the motorized birthday cake, driving across the desert toward the illuminated Man; when Dustin was standing inside the advice booth dispensing counsel; when my group's trajectory intersected in the pure dark of the deep playa with that of Dave and Ann, lit only by mutual headlamps and EL wire; when Maya asked for sugar and Seth lounged among pink cushions and Jamie went for pancakes and Michelle came by for a gnome -- then did I begin to piece together the bits of a disparate city that knows me, a city in which I am, as they say, home.

(And not to say nothing of Craig and his tricycle-guitar; Matt & Emily and their profferings of rosemary-lime cocktails in my tin camping cup and avocados; Jaime & Vince and their whiskey, sandwiches, Tecate; and all those whom I intentionally found.)

I slept enough on the playa, in my silver tensegrity hut (that I, at least, thought resembled a strip-mined Hershey's kiss surrounded by scaffolding); drank wine with the neighbors under a blacklight in my white-glowing-purple fringed dress until a reasonable hour; declined to wander one night when my foot hurt. I wore bright pink boots and gold hot pants. Bach's cello suites played on nearby giant speakers one morning; I relaxed in the shade, still holding my toothbrush, and slowly remembered the prelude and fugue of the 5th.

Despite my deep enjoyment of the distributed nature of this community of 50,000 that assembles each year in the middle of the Black Rock Desert, I yet feel (because surely the time for annual resolutions is following an event like this -- in which one reaps what one sows; one is confronted with needs and expectations and must address them -- and not on some arbitrary Gregorian signpost (and hell, it's almost my birthday!)) that I must this year circle the wagons, focus on my own community before the larger network. It's a bit counterintuitive to this widely-cast extrovert, but something tells me it might be time.

Now, after the annual best shower ever, my hair is clean! I have cuticles again; I have freckles across the bridge of my nose, right under the goggle line. We did pretty well for ourselves in the relative wilderness for a week, but this whole shoulders-of-giants civilization thing is, as remembered, pretty rad. Every year, it's lovely to exist temporarily on sunscreen, water, and dreams. But every year it's better to return. Perhaps that means the worlds are pulling together.

Mon, 21 Sep 2009 18:19:05 -0700

I leaned my helmet to the side of Mike's last night as we rode his old Beamer bike (the newer one having been badly dinged at the track at Laguna Seca a few months back), me in shiny black heels and jeans under the short-skirted dress I'd had on for the wedding, over the dark hills leading back to the city from Walnut Creek. He'd been right: coming over a crest around Orinda, the air suddenly changed, and I became glad of my leather jacket, which had been slightly stifling as we'd stood in the warm summer evening outside the reception hall, saying our goodbyes after the pot-pie dinner, champagne toasts, Scott in a black utilikilt dancing with Courtney, glowing in white as brides do. I'd met the other brothers of that clan; the parents too; each raising their eyebrows knowingly (oh, you're Nori!) as I said my name (which was, selfishly, gratifying). Ate wedding cake for my birthday; invited myself over to dinner at the houses of both old and new acquaintances. Weddings have for me an element of the bittersweet in them: mostly in the usual slow-dance; this one, in small part, for the obvious juxtaposition of the might-have-been.

And so we rode back, silent but for the hum of the motorcycle's engine, Mike & the newly-29 I, into the foggy chill of our city, Coit Tower shining out from its north edge, the view from the bridge more visible for not being through a windshield. I can't quite tell if it's a sense of the unfinished, the finished, or the not-yet-begun that stuck, subtly, in my craw. I've always liked that years for me begin in the fall -- you've been fun, 28, but I think I'm ready for a new one.

all this Šnori heikkinen, September 2009

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