Innerbloom

October 21, 2016

There is always a song. One song that defines my Burning Man experience. One song that encapsulates my emotions of that Utopian week in the desert. It floats among the dust, entices me into a trance and touches me softly until it has wrapped its chords fully around my being, forcing me to face its intrinsic significance.

This was my fifth Burning Man. And it wasn’t my favorite. But i didn’t realize why until the weeks that followed our return home. This was my longest burn. 14324323_10153903072258601_3726925072320884505_oThe trip was lengthened even further with our decision to drive the 2,246 miles there and back. My husband and i drove a campmate’s 4Runner, hauling a box trailer with our camp’s gear and infrastructure. By the time we arrived on playa, i was exhausted from the four-day drive, wondering how i was going to survive camping for nine days in Black Rock City. Overall, we were gone for three weeks.

It was midweek when the song came wafting towards me. i was already emotionally drained. Already physically drained. Cuddled up on a giant camp chair, i faded in and out of reality, out of consciousness, while the chorus repeated over and over:

If you want me
If you need me
I’m yours

It wouldn’t stop resonating within me, each repetition crescendo-ing into an emotional ballad. At one point my husband came over to check on me, unaware of this defining moment, and i burst into tears. It was what i wanted to say aloud, not just to my husband, but to all of our campmates. i felt lonely. Unwanted. Unneeded. But there i was, waiting to be there for someone. Anyone.

At the time i could not recognize this. I only knew i was feeling anxious, focused on why no one had made the effort to make time for us, to place a higher value on spending time together than going about their own plans. Why did it always seem like while i was looking forward to spending time with everyone, no one else reciprocated that feeling? i was absorbing the stress of our working campmates and feeling jealous of those who only came to party and enjoy the freedom of the openly self-expressive culture.

While in the default world i am an independent person who often needs time alone, at Burning Man, i crave social interaction. It’s the one place i feel comfortable being myself. But how can i demand of others that which i have not attempted? i understand now that had i spoken up, shared what i was feeling, i might have had a different experience. But i am constantly fighting the fear of vulnerability, afraid of exposing my true thoughts and feelings.

 

 

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