Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I'm sitting on the sidewalk, charging my phone, watching hundreds of people walking down this narrow street dressed in fur coats and platform shoes and capes and funny hats while the music blasts out of the sound camp at the end of the road.

This fest is so finite. There's a road block on 22nd and a road block six blocks down. Burning Man Decompression is constrained to these six blocks, and things are being sold for money, and there's a little bit of litter on the ground. It's strange to see this transplanted in an urban environment with tall buildings and a freeway overpass...many people look dirty but no one is covered in dust, and some people are just here to party in San Fran. Mostly it's familiar and recognizable and extremely comforting, which I need. I look around and know that most everyone here is my friend, if I want to reach out and ask for help. I could disguise my plight and hit the dance floor and just trust....that I will find someone.

I missed the last Caltrain, the last straight shot home. I had no cash for a bus, and not enough on my card to withdraw a 20. If I asked a stranger for $4, it would probably take 3 or 4 hours to find a MUNI bus, catch a BART, then SamTransit back to Menlo Park. I had stranded myself big time.

Everyone here is my friend, everyone here is my friend. I knew that wasn't totally true, I'd weeded out some sketchy looking guys surveying this madness...they clearly didn't get it. Those people look nice, those people look like they have a comfy couch, those people look like millionaires in disguise! The music was good, but I wasn't in a good place, so I found an electrical outlet next to an interactive dance floor that lights up as you dance on it. I spent a half hour watching a guy with a tail and a girl in spandex and fuzzy leg warmers dance their butts off while I charged my phone and waited for a plan to emerge.

I was a little surprised and extremely grateful that I could bring myself back down to Earth. The music was making my head bop, the dancers were making me laugh, and I knew somehow that everything would be ok. I was also a little disappointed that I couldn't just let go of my anxiety and join the party. If I didn't know where I was going to sleep, I couldn't let loose. But I was intensely grateful for having a clear enough head. Checking my phone, I realized it had only been an hour since I left my friends to catch the train. The hour before that I had surrendered space and time to a piece of chocolate. Every five minutes felt like an eternity, and what was Sunday, and what was tomorrow, and what was San Francisco, and what was Menlo Park? Do I have a problem? How serious is it? All I know is, every face I see is supremely interesting, and everyone finds me supremely interesting, and I love my new friend Joshua.

And an hour later I'm sitting on a sidewalk by myself in a new city with a dollar in my pocket and a dead phone. This is not how you're supposed to do it!

I didn't call Menlo Park to get rescued. I thought about 4 dollars, and sitting on trains and buses for three hours, for the purpose of waking up on Monday morning in Menlo Park, and I think that scared me as much as finding a new place to sleep. Not just the journey, and the effort of going back, but the resignation to waking up in Menlo Park, because that's what I'm expected to do.

I'm afraid of where I'm going, I'm afraid of where I've been. 

In that moment I decided to have a little faith. I would find someone, I would end up somewhere safe, and I would hopefully have fun on the way. Walking down the street I could see that a lot of the dance floors and art installations were being broken down, and I tried not to panic. I saw a lit-up tent in the park so I went up and saw a lot of people sitting on a carpeted floor, looking very zen, and two guys said, "hey, wanna sit down?" I let myself come back to Earth. It was 10pm on a Sunday night, I was in San Francisco, and I was extremely blessed to be here. If there's something Burning Man teaches you, it's to look for blessings. Plus, you're supposed to do one thing every day that scares you.

My two new friends and I talked, and greeted people, and met Alex from Romania, and had our fortune told by Gabe, who looked like a cherub, and got serenaded by a older long-haired blonde guy on a ukelele who sang about the troubles of his home in Hawaii. I was afraid people were staring at us as he wailed rather loudly about condominiums, but after two songs he told us he was the leader of this camp we were in, and I reminded myself to quit judging. Another lesson from Burning Man....

One hour later, I found myself at an after-party with my two new friends, discussing the Middle East on a balcony with newer friends.

And one hour after, I found myself on a couch in an apartment in San Francisco, eating pizza and watching Rookie of the Year.

Fast forward seven hours, I was on a Southbound Caltrain, listening to an 80's dance remix, seeing texts from new numbers pop up on my phone and glancing over at a baby that was staring at me.

I love my life.


This song played twice at the after-party. I'm not that into it, but it goes well with the theme of today.

Home is wherever I'm with you.

...and the people in this picture look like.....yeah.