Monday, March 08, 2004

Burning Man 26: Rain Storm

Elisa, Todd, Cosmo and I wandered around, quite aimlessly, for most of the evening Friday. Not much memorable happened, except I became increasingly enamored with Elisa. If she hears me say this, she'll kill me, but I thought she was cute as a button, with her guitar and stuff.

I thought I'd seen it all, friends. I mean, huge winds, psychedelic windmills, and a Santa Claus clone sleeping in a Studebaker. Never mind giant dominoes and as good an example of serendipity as you're ever gonna find.

But then it started raining.

I had taken to wearing a quilt when it got cold, so we walked back to Center Camp, picked out a nice couch, and huddled underneath it. Cosmo got us all hot coffee or chai, and we sat for a few minutes laughing and trying to ignore the fact that we were getting rained on.

See, the roof of Center Camp is made of shade cloth, which is a relatively efficient way of collecting rain so that it drips in HUGE drops, instead of just regular sized ones. And I couldn't handle it. Remember, I'd taken a lot of mushrooms a few hours before, and I sat there trying to both smile and be witty while trying to anticipate the sudden large, cold drop of rain hitting my head. It gets hard to concentrate on being witty when you're on hallucinogens and can't think about anything but the next wet, cold SPLAT on your blue hair.

Which, by this stage of the game, was looking pretty ragged. It was blue and WHITE, from dust, and blinked (and beeped) rather morosely whenever I turned it on. I really thought I was going to have to cut it off when I got back, but that's unimportant.

The rain got worse, and it was COLD. All the worst times in my life I can think of were wet and cold related. This would have been among the worst, except for the company.

And the fact that we were still welcome in the RV. Where we shortly traveled, sans Cosmo, who decided he wanted to volunteer in the cafe, which should surprise no one who knows Cosmo.

The RV was warm. EVERYONE was in side the RV, because it was warm and dry. It soon became apparent, though, that the people who actually lived in the RV were preparing for sleepy time, which meant (given the # of people who slept in the RV) all available sitting areas would soon be needed to support snoozing people.

Sweet, button-y Elisa had meanwhile fallen asleep with her cute little head on my shoulder. I felt a warm, fuzzy feeling about this, much more so than usual--but then again, there was the matter of several grams of mushrooms running around in my system. I was into the happy, physically disconnected phase of that there mushroom trip--I couldn't imagine doing anything as gross or focused as kissing her, but I sure did like her head on my shoulder. It was at this time that I realized what the phrase "I just want to be held" really meant. Annnnnd...she'd made it clear that with the weather as miserable as it was, and her lack of a ground sheet under her tent, she didn't really want to trek back out to her place.

This was my chance. Maybe, just maybe, I'd meet a girl at Burning Man after all. And maybe, just possibly, once I could quit seeing out of the pores on my face, I might get to experience playa sex. Maybe.

All of these loopy little half-formed plots eventually met up at one specific bottleneck: Dan Pugh, and his lack of shelter. He'd been really good at sleeping elsewhere (I presume he was sleeping-you never can tell with him), mainly in Center Camp, but we'd just experienced rain in Center Camp, and it sucked, so there was no telling.

It came down to a choice of tents: my tent, with all its commensurate blinky-haired delights (aside from the mushroom trip, the whole 18" hair thing would make getting froggy in a tent awkward at best), or Todd's tent, which definitely had less to offer in the way of DNA haired acidheads who would go get you coffee in the morning, but did offer the distinct advantage of no awkward roommates.

As the people in the RV gradually became more agitated about going to bed, I braved the wet and cold (I swear, it had to have been 40 degrees, and raining) to viddy the tent situation. Now, let it be known that I had every right to boot Daniel-san out of the tent, should I feel the need. We'd discussed it--and again, he'd made every attempt to be gone. However, as usual, fate conspired against us.

Even before I hit the door, I knew he was in there. It was dark, and muddy (after all, it IS a dry lakebed, so it doesn't take much to make things impassable), and I'd caught my hair on a guy line (WHY did I ever do this? WHY didn't we bring more lights?), so I was in no mood to dick around. I was mad, Gentle Reader, because deep down I knew how things would go. Even IF Dan wasn't inside, I just didn't have the focus (or, frankly, the charisma) to talk ol' girl into bed with me. But I wanted to, so badly.

I unzipped the tent flap. Shined my light inside. There was Daniel, fast asleep, a smudge of drool on his chin. It was cold; he was balled up under a big blanket, but still far enough to one side that I could get in there with him.

I knelt there for a moment, contemplating the situation. Coming to grips with just how unresolvable it was with what I wanted it to be. It wasn't an option to wake up that poor silly bastard and kick him out in the cold and the rain. It wasn't. Kate Moss couldn't have convinced me to do that, and what was funny was that I spent more time shining my light in his face out of spite than I did making a decision about what to do.

I reentered the RV, still tripping balls and wet (and very lonely), and told them the bad news. I was sleeping with Pugh tonight.

Five minutes later, I was in my (our) tent, gritting my teeth and trying to sleep, while having to listen to half muffled giggles and rummagings-around in TODD'S tent, which was situated about 5 feet from mine.

Luckily, an hour or two later, we had another huge windstorm which completely did for the remains of our shelter, as well as the rest of the Jack Daniels, which some fool had left out with the lid open, and resulted in some JD flavored white mud. By sunup, the only things standing in camp were two tents and a couple of cars. And I woke up to Dan Pugh crawling over me to go puke. As far as the eye could see, there was white mud, and people covered in white mud. And, incidentally, no folk-singin' cute-as-a-button New York girl who would fall asleep on my shoulder.

Loss. Utter loss. A feeling of foolishness, to have thought that any of this would work out. A huge feeling of homesickness, and a taste of the dread that comes when it's time to pack up and go home. But still, anticipation. It was Saturday morning, the last day, and no one had anything to lose. The Man burned that night, and no one knew what would happen.


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