Sep. 6th, 2017

Burning Man

Sep. 6th, 2017 10:54 am
quentincoyote: (Default)
So, I have just gotten back from Burning Man. I am exhausted, and I have a lot to catch up on. But, I am going to repost a letter here, which I wrote to my camp mates, by way of trying to explain the experience that I have just had. Apologies for the rushedness. Suffice to say though, everything is different today, and, this is my first meager attempt to share it with others.

Incidentally, for context, "Fuck your burn!" is a term of endearment between Burners. So, here we go...

***

I have been on a five year journey trying to come to Burning Man.

My journey started in 2012, when my mother died. She did not go quickly, and she did not go easily. I was still living in the NYC area at the time, and there came a point where... my whole life just kind of fell apart. There were more things as well, that I will not belabor here anymore, but, all in all, it became a sustained very dark time, bam, bam, bam, one thing after another.

And then my mother died.

My mother passing was the last and biggest straw that just broke me. I needed to get away from New York. I needed a way out, something new, some kind of way to find a new life and start all over again.

Around the same time that my mother passed, is when I first heard about Burning Man. I stumbled across an online article about it somewhere, and in particular, a thing that caught my eye about it, was the Temple. That sounded like a really amazing place, and something that I needed to see. I decided that, somehow, some way, I needed to get to burning man one day, and put a picture of my mother in the Temple. I knew that it would not be easy, and the path was not clear. But, this journey that I set for myself, would be how I could release my pain, and honor her - the kindest, sweetest, strongest, most amazing woman that I have ever known. It's taken me a very long time to get here. It took me five years.

Along the way, I moved myself out to the SF Bay area. I'd already been planning to do that for awhile anyway, since at least 2010, for some of the above other reasons (and more positive ones, too.) But, always, somewhere in the back of my mind, there was this culminating end goal of Burning Man and the Temple. I had many adventures along the way. And there have been many wonderful times. I landed in the Bay on Gay Pride weekend of 2013, and in general, the overall trend has been steadily up and up. I have made many fantastic friends, who I would go to the ends of the earth for. (Zarafa is one who I will in particular call out, as I met him early on in my journey out west, and he and I have had many conversations about Burning Man over the years.) I live in a great house in South Bay, with four of the best friends and roommates a person could ever ask for. We throw great parties (if I do say so myself. ^.^), and just overall, life had been pretty good and happy again.

But still.. the hard truth, that I can finally admit and give voice to, is that I have been a broken person...

Why broken? Well, in life, whenever you meet someone new, what do you do to get to know each other? You ask them to tell a story about themselves, about who they are. Of course though, you have to give back too, and tell a story about yourself. And therein lies the rub. For the past... five to seven years now, I have not liked my own story. For what was my story? My story was... everything was awesome, and I was king furry of New York. And then... my boyfriend of three years, my almost husband, left me for a mutual friend, my house got robbed by a different friend, whom I had once taken in off the street when his family kicked him out, my social circle fell apart... And then my mom died. And I tried to move to California to make things better, but that was a struggle too, and oh yeah by the way, my cat died not long after I landed (I put a picture of him in the Temple, too), and yeah ok, things are maybe kinda better now, but, still I've only just been trying to recover to a point that sort of maybe looks almost, but not quite, like a place I used to be before. It's still not the high heights I used to think that I was at. And beside all of that.. I'm 44 years old now. I'm kind of over the hill. My shot that I thought I had at love has come and gone, I thought nothing will feel again like that did when it was good. I feel rejected and afraid of opening up to people, because of the collapse of my relationship, and because of the betrayal of a friend, and, I'm terrified and alone, because I lost my mother. And.. I've pretty much seen it all by now. Nothing is going to surprise me anymore, it's just all downhill from here...

And that... is a fucking shitty story. I do not like it, I do not like telling it, I certainly don't like living it, and I dread it, whenever I meet someone new, and they're going to ask me who I am, and this is the fuck all that I have to answer that question with. I'm an intelligent person, and I can fake it reasonably well, but, that's what's been there, always boiling under the surface, and I'm terrified that they're going to look deep into my eyes, and see past the facade, and recoil from me at monster they see underneath...

But then... I made it to Burning Man...

I made it. I got here... And I had the most amazing time of my life! Better than anything I've ever seen before, better than anything I could have ever conceived. I had no idea... I had no idea, that all of this was always out here, just waiting for me. I had no idea anything could be so beautiful... I'm surprised. I've been surprised again.. I've spent the past week with my jaw on the floor, laughing and crying at beautiful things... I had forgotten what it was like to feel this way. I had a whole long night of experience and epiphany, on Wednesday night in particular, that I will probably get around to explaining in detail later, in a some separate post. But for now, just... I had. No. Idea.

And the Temple. I'll talk about things that happened to me in the Temple a lot more later, too. But, yes... On Thursday night.. I brought mom to the Temple. I put her there. I did it. Five years later.. I finally brought her Home.

And now, already... everything is different. The whole world is different. Because, my story is already different. Because, now my story is... All of those things above happened before, yes... And then, I went to Burning man, and I learned that I could still be surprised again. I learned that there are more things that I never even knew could make me cry with their beauty. And I know now, that this is isn't even close to the end anymore. This is just the beginning! And that is a great fucking story! That is a story that I will tell all day!

Hearing about last year's incarnation of the TransFoamation cleansing event, I had been told that, one of the things that you had to do before going in, was to confess a Sin. They actually didn't do that part this year when I went to it Thursday morning, but, I had been thinking about it very hard, and, I knew what the Sin would be that I would confess. So, here it is now:

My Sin is... that I had forgotten how to feel Awe. And I'm so fucking sorry... I will not forget it again, ever. I promise.

***

I will tell two more short stories, that directly follow from all of this.

So as some of you may know, I lost my cell phone Wednesday night (and, that's actually a good thing! It was the start of everything else. But, I'll get into all that another time.) Anyway, so on Sunday, before the Temple burn, I was standing in line at the lost and found, waiting to see if maybe it had turned up there. (It had not. As it turns out, some people from camp Sake II Me found it, and I have it back, now. Not important! Still I was waiting in this line...) So anyway, I'm waiting in line there for a long time, and so I get to talking to these two other Burners in front of me. And among other things, we talk about our stories of how we first came to burning man. And, I told them my story. Of my mother, and all of that. And, of course I had been thinking about it all for days, of what it meant to finally be here. And another wave of inspiration hit me, right then and there. And as I ended the story, what I said to them was, that next year, when I hopefully don't have anything else that I personally need to put in the Temple myself... I am going to volunteer to be a Temple Guardian.

Because, I am. That's what I have decided. From here on out, this is my Burning Man Calling. I know this to be true, just as much as I know that I am a Coyote. (Just wait until I get into my Temple stories...) And I said as much to them.

So, the line proceeds on, and I get to the front, and the other two burners I was talking to go on their way to look for their items. And then, this woman who has been standing behind me the whole time, puts her hand on my shoulder, and talks to me. And her name was Lula Mae. And she said to me, that she had listened to my story about my mother, and my journey here. And she's crying. And she told me that, she herself had just lost her own mother a couple of months ago. And she thought it was really so beautiful, what I was doing. And she raised her arm, and took off this bracelet she was wearing, which she gave to me, which she said was from her mother's memorial service. It has a little pendant on it, which says, "A piece of my heart is in heaven." And she said that she knew she'd kept it for a reason. She wanted me to have it now. I have it here with me.


And I hugged her tight, and told her that I was so sorry for her loss. And I thanked her, and told her that I would honor this gift, always. It is too small for my wrist, but, I think that I will get a chain for it, and make it into a necklace. I told her that, after this, I was going to go over and talk to the Temple Guardians right now to volunteer. And so I did.

After talking to the Temple Guardians, I came back to Center Camp to get a coffee, feeling happy and serene as you please. Got into a conversation with the nice lady serving it, when she asked what brought me here, told her a third, even more brief, but just as heart felt, version of this story again. Her eyes lit up, and she thought it was just so wonderful what I was doing. And when I told her that I was so happy to have finally brought my mother here, to have finally brought her home, she said to me, "You know what... I think that she's always been here. And she's just been waiting for you to finally get here, too. She must be like, 'What took you so long?'" :)

*smiles...* I think she's right.

***

Second story following from this. So on Saturday night after the Man burn, I was wandering around the City with my friend Amenophis. And at one point, we came across this little phone booth set up on the Esplanade. And on it, it says, "Talk to God." Amenophis recognized this and said, though he had never tried it, it was a fairly famous staple for Burning Man. So ok, that sounded interesting, I was going to try it.

Not exactly sure what was going to happen. Like.. it is some kind of pre-recorded audio art piece, or what? So I go up and look at the thing, and there are instructions: 1) step on platform. 2) phone will ring. 3) Pick up phone, talk to God.

So, I step on the thing, and after a few seconds, the phone rings. I pick it up...

Me: ...Hello?
Phone: [a woman's voice speaks] Hello my child, this is God!
Me: Oh..! Um... hello God, how are you doing?
God: I'm just fine my child, thanks for asking! How are you doing?
Me: Oh I'm ah.. doing just fine, thank you!
God: Wonderful! Tell me my child, what is your name?
Me: My name is Quentin.
God: Hello Quentin, nice to meet you! Now tell me. Do you have any questions for God?
Me: Oh..! Umm... hmmm... ...
Me: Well... you know what, at the beginning of the week I did, but, at this point, all of the really pressing ones, for the moment anyway, have been pretty well answered for the most part I think, so nah... I think I'm good. :)
God: Oh..! Well... Shit!
Me: I KNOW, right??? :D
God: My child, you don't need God's help, you're doing just fine on your own! That's wonderful, keep up the good work! :D
Me: Aw thanks God, I will! And by the way, thank you for doing all of this, you're awesome!
God: Thank you Quentin, you're awesome too!
Me: Ok, I'm gonna hang up now, and then my friend is going to talk to you, ok?
God Ok!
Me: Ok, I love you bye bye!
God: I love you too, bye bye!
Me: Fuck your burn! :D

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Quentin Coyote

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