Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Retirement



I think just about everybody already knows this, but if you happen to be the one person I know who has not asked or who I have not outright told, then ATTENTION PLEASE:

I have retired from Burning Man and I am 100% okay with that decision. I'm happy about it, actually.


I didn't even unpack my camping stuff last year and instead, LB and I drove straight to the dumpster in her office's parking lot and DUMPED THAT SHIT. I think my dad might have a heart attack to hear about me throwing away PERFECTLY GOOD [read: totally freaking TRASHED] camping supplies and even LB was like "I think the homeless people by your house might like the MaxxDaddy" and I just flat out didn't care. SCREW YOU, HOMELESS PEOPLE!

I'm not really that much of an asshole, but I just 100% really, truly and forever was D-O-N-E with Burning Man.

Do I hate Burning Man? Did I have a bad experience?

No and no.

But did all the effort required to survive, much less have fun, get old after nine years? Did I reach my limit with all the hippies and the frat boys?

Yes and yes.

I KNOW I'm only 32, but really people, I'm too damn old. Not "too old" like "I need an Advil after sleeping on the ground for a week" but "too old" as in "I have different financial priorities than I did when I was 22 but money aside, wouldn't it be kinda nice to use my vacation time for something, oh I don't know, RELAXING for once?"

And also? Now that I'm 32 and I'm OWNING my uncoolness and I don't care if you know I LOVE Britney's latest album, I no longer feel the need to be okay with recreational drug use. I'm no longer on Team No Thanks, But Do What You Want. I'm a proud member of Team You Know What? I DO Mind. Could You Do That Somewhere Else Please?

So there you have it. I am old and crotchety. And I don't care.

That said, there are a couple of things I will miss. Like the feeling of how cozy a tent and a sleeping bag can be and falling asleep to the sound of far-off voices and the not-so-far-off THUMP THUMP THUMP of the music. It's like falling asleep to a heartbeat.

Unfortunately, the pre-dawn hours usually also mean that the temperature drops and your tent and sleeping bag and comforter aren't quite so cozy anymore and the thought of reaching for the extra blanket and therefore losing the exact spot of warmth you've created in your sleeping bag is torture. And what happens when, in the bitterly cold pre-dawn hours, you have to go to the bathroom? And I'm not even talking about good citizens who pee in the porta-potties, because at night? I'm a bad citizen. That big wet spot by the tire of the van? It didn't RAIN right there in that one spot only. But GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY, tearing myself from my sleeping bag and the "warmth" of my tent is PAIN. Seriously. Breaking my hand out there that one time wasn't half as bad as the torture of a pre-dawn potty break.

So why not hold it? Well. Let's just say that my "pee holding in" muscles are the same as my "getting up off the air mattress" muscles. I can do one or the other, but doing both? It takes meticulous precision and I am not known for my grace under (bladder) pressure.

And while we're at it, my "getting off the bike" muscles are also connected, aren't they LB? Heh. *THAT* was a glamorous moment.

I am also completely in love with dusk in the desert. Not really for profound or artistic reasons, but really because as soon as the sun disappears behind the mountains the temperature becomes tolerable that 30 minute window is the BEST time to sit down, have a cocktail and watch the world go by.

Some would argue that that's really all I do anyway -- sitting down, drinking cocktails and watching the world go by to which I say IT'S FUCKING HOT OUT THERE DUMBASSES! I don't want to get on my bike and work up MORE of a sweat! SHEESH!

So I'm a wuss? Yes and no. One of my most favorite afternoons ever was spent having a cocktail party in the middle of a whiteout, made even better by the fact that we had arrived home to find our "living room" in shreds. It was kaput, but what were we going to do about it? When in doubt, have a cocktail. Or really, a beer, since it's easier to keep the dust out during a storm.

Falling asleep inside a heartbeat, cocktails at dusk, and whiteouts are all things I'll miss.

Another thing I'll miss is the rare feeling of being filled with life. This is going to sound all mushy gushy koombaya but really, sometimes you can FEEL it out there. There have been many times over the years when I've consciously thought "How could I ever NOT come here??????????? How SAD will I be when one year I won't be here? How JEALOUS will I be knowing that other people are here and I'm not???"

Except maybe one of the more awesome things about being 32 is that I'm able to find that life-filled feeling other places. Places with that don't peel the skin off my fingers. And okay, maybe it's not as hit-you-over-the-head-with-glee as it can be at Burning Man, but it's not less good or anything.

Maturity, let me show you it.

2 comments:

sally said...

I love everything you wrote here. :-) I owned my uncoolness a long time ago. It's just easier that way. And the older you get the easier it is to live in your own skin.

Kathy said...

One of my good friends who's also in his early 30s told me, "As I get older, I turn from an aesthete into a pragmatist."

While I think there is some truth to that for me, too, I also feel that as I get older, I find art and beauty in cheaper, mundane, more accessible places. Maybe I've just lowered my standards and it's my way of rationalizing, but I like think I've learned to identify it more accurately.

I've never been to Burning Man and your description makes it sound like an enviable experience. That's awesome, and no matter how old you get, your times there will never have not-happened.