Tuesday, August 28th, 2012, 7am
An hour ago, I watched my first sunrise at Burning Man from the top of the Lamplighters lounge. It seems strange to think that I’ve slept less than 8 hours in the past two days. I feel amazing. People say that the playa is the most beautiful place on Earth, and I’m seeing evidence of that every moment. The people are amazingly kind; I don’t think I’ve ever received so many smiles, hugs and compliments from strangers before. These hugs aren’t perfunctory or forced, either — these are tight-gripping, moves-your-soul hugs! I feel welcomed here in a way that I’m not sure I ever had in that place I can now refer to as the “default world.” My home in Houston is now the default (not the norm or the rule). My real home is this place of extreme beauty, a place of loyal community and collective love that is intoxicating. It’s making me slowly come to the realization that it’s going to be really difficult to leave…
About Lamplighters, there really aren’t words to express my joy. The three of us were welcomed into this camp with open arms and told to think of the members of this camp as friends, and they have thought the same of us from the get-go. We participated in our first lamplighting ceremony last night. Last night was also the first time I cried in Black Rock City.
The lamplighting ceremony is a truly religious experience. A masse of people are robed in ceremonial garb, festooned with the tools of their particular title (whether it be a lighter, an 8-foot pole holding 12 lit kerosene lanterns, a booming voice or just a friendly smile), and are sent out into the city to march along different routes and hang lanterns to help light the major streets. Cliff and I were carriers, and thus responsible for carrying one of the poles with lanterns. It was an arduous task, to say the least. I wouldn’t say the process of carrying is painful, but the angle at which one has to hold their arms to balance this pole makes one a little uncomfortable. My arms went completely numb more than once along our route. But it was ok, because all along the walk to the temple, people were gathered to cheer and thank us for what we were doing. After we finished, our route leader (or luminary, named Rhino) gathered us outside the temple, and presented us with the Lamplighter charm; then, he asked us to look around the city and appreciate the beauty, enhanced by the hundreds of lights we have provided. That’s when the tightness in my chest I had been working through since the halfway point in our route finally bubbled over into full-blown tears. To be a part of something bigger than yourself is always a beautiful thing. It made me realize that I want to do more for this city and for this camp. I want to take all the appreciation within me and turn it into some selfless act, because that is what is most important to me here at Burning Man.
Oh! I just met a woman with a really awesome coat named Cliff, and now there’s talk of drinks at the bar…off I go!
…and I am officially losing my shit.
I am such a bundle of nerves and excitement, I may or may not break into fits of invigorating white girl dance moves in public in the next 13 days.
If you see me out and about in Houston and I am bustin’ a move, know that I am not crazy or on drugs…I am HIGH ON LIFE.