By Megan Dixon
I have a few Burning Men under my belt at this point. I wouldnít go so
far as to call myself an "old timer," no way would I dare. But now that
Iíve gone six in a row, I would venture to call myself a "middle-timer," no longer a newbie, perhaps even a wee bit jaded. I think it
was as early as my second year when I first began to notice people
saying "Welcome home" when I enter Burning Man. What is it with the
Greeters saying this in the first place? Who started this?
How many of them have even been more than a year? None of the tadpoles
who've "greeted" me.
I donít quite know how I feel about a fresh, yippy skippy, eager perky
young newbie volunteering to be a Greeter and then welcoming me home.
Welcome home? How about the other way around kiddo? Welcome to my
familiar stomping ground (youíve already made yourself comfortable I
see) and can you vote yet? (Is this just me getting old and angry?) I
was into the whole welcome home thing for a few years but while I
smiled and received the greeting with the joy of just finally being
there, I certainly didnít ever really get into saying it. It sounded
so ... organized ... boring ... and more than just a bit forced and faked. Sure I
want everyone to feel welcome. The great thing about the playa is the
openness people exhibit, the friendliness. But sometimes when some ten-year-old
welcomes me home I just want to shove her
boingy-star-headband-ass off her streamer-glittered bike and ...
Well Iíll stop there.
Maybe itís that I donít want this to be home. It isnít. Home is a
refuge, a place of comfort. Itís relaxing and controlled. Burning Man
is a place where I meet my demons, and battle my fears. I donít get
naked in my "real" life and here I struggle the first few days with
relaxing those issues and just changing my fucking clothes and taking a
damn shower (or not!). The first few days are me fighting my cocoon,
breaking through and working my wings out and drying in the sun. Burning
Man is about dust, dirt, becoming one with un-cleanliness. My friends
always quote my famous remark the second year we were there: ďStandards
of cleanliness have plummeted!Ē
And this was a happy thing.
I wasnít checking my face in a mirror every second or worrying about my
hair. At ďhomeĒ I donít have to deal with NOT looking in the depths of
the porta potty before I squat above it ... at home there is always toilet
paper and damn it, there should be. Burning Man is about rethinking
comfort both emotionally and physically. I hate the heat and I hate the
sun. I am a white skinned - translucent almost - person who turns into a
lobster within a mere few seconds of exposure. The first day I am
always sure I am going to die. I lay there inert - perplexing my sun
loving buddies - waving my fan, misting with my misty mate, sucking
continuously on a camelback, gasping like a beached guppy and
practicing my southern drawl. ďMah word it is hot to-day!Ē This
is not home. This is war. This is my city-self dying and my Burning
Babe emerging from the ashes.
Home had cable, damn it. I'm here for something else.
I would not explain Burning Man as like a home away from home. In fact
it isnít at all. It is more like your first day in pre-school. Everything is
strange. You probably want to
go home, you donít get the rules, youíre confused by the people, and
you most likely have bathroom issues. But then you relax and forget
that and play and do crafts and run around. You approach people without
fear and talk, you meet new people and you try new things. You manage
finally to poop in the potty like a big girl. Nothing will likely ever
be as unfamiliar or scary or strange again in your life. Nothing except
kindergarten and Burning Man. And itís wonderful that way.
Burning man is about leaving the nest, kicking yourself out of your
comfort zone, shaking your head clear and seeing things with new eyes.
Home has nothing to do with that. Burning Man is more to me, makes me
more me than the comfort of home ever could, and itís in no way
So when you say, "welcome home," and someone says, "shut the fuck up," you
may have said it to me.
See you on the playa my darlings.
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