So, as many of you know Ben and I were both early arrival and stayed late after the event. If my memory serves correct (which is highly debatable) we left the Bay Area on Thursday some 8 hours after our intended departure time. If any burner says that they left on time you should immediately question the validity of that statement, and/or the dedication to the burner spirit. It is inherently essential that all burners pack far more than they intended and start packing at the last possible moment. You should be scouring all the thrift stores and various other hidden jewels in your community for that last minute cowboy shirt or pirate-cheerleading outfit that you can't possibly live without! If we don't have at least one camp member with a working pair of udders for this year's burn, I will forever hang my head in shame.
Ok, back to the story.... so Ben and I came early and had a shit load of fun with fellow camp members. Highlights of the actual burn are too many to list, but if you missed out on drunk a cappella dub-step, well, I don't know what to say other than I'm so sorry for your loss and I will offer you a pity hug on the playa this year. Anyhoo, um yeah, shit load of fun and all. Fast forwarding to post burn.... Monday was spent packing shit up and listening to BMIR radio. There was a big accident on I-80 so we decided "Fuck-it, why wait in the car when we can stay on the playa another day?!" The sun set and we cracked a celebratory brew and said a fond farewell to our adventures. It was a beautiful moment. The refuges of various camps were spread few and far between. The stars shone in a luminous brilliance and the dead quiet of the playa drifted across the blissful peace of the remnants of our camp. Then, all of a sudden, a loud crash by a neighbor camp was followed by:
"WHY DID YOU PUT THAT THERE?! YOU'RE USELESS! JUST LET ME DO IT"
"I CAN DO IT! JUST TELL ME WHAT TO DO!"
"NO, YOU CAN'T DO SHIT, I'LL JUST FUCKING DO IT, LIKE I FUCKING DO EVERYTHING---"
"FUCK YOU, I CAN DO IT! JUST TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT!"
"I'M NOT YOUR FUCKING BOSS! WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT ME TO DO? TELL YOU FUCKING EVERYTHING?"
"WE'RE SUPPOSED TO WORK TOGETHER! DON'T YELL AT ME!"
"JUST GO TO BED, YOU USELESS PIECE OF SHIT!"
This went on for a good 10 minutes, getting more and more aggressive as it went. Ben and I laughed it off at first, because, who doesn't get frustrated and stressed at the Burn? But it took a nasty turn and began to sound bad. Ben took off and I immediately followed. Ben found one guy trying to throw a bag of recycling on top of a giant heap in the back of a pick-up and I began to talk to a guy in his trailer.
"You guys okay?" I asked.
"Ohhhh myyyy goddddd. Thankkk you for coming! We're just a little stressed"
"Yeah, I could tell. Maybe it's time for a break."
"Oh, he just gets that way. Thanks for coming over, it takes a lot of courage to come help a stranger in the middle of a fight."
"Hey, it's no problem," I replied. "We're all in this together and packing up is a big deal."
At this point I noticed the 1/2 gallon of vodka in his hand.
"You want a drink?" he asked.
"No thanks, we've got a big drive tomorrow" I replied.
"Us too!" he said. "We're heading to Toronto at 6 tomorrow morning."
Holy shit, I thought, these guys are insane! He continued to thank us for intervening and the four of us met by the truck to make peace. The guy I had been talking to pulled me aside and said "he gets cranky, but it's okay, we got married yesterday!"
The guy Ben had been talking to introduced himself and asked where we had been camped. We explained who we were and apologized for any rude comments Robbie or Ghost might have made through the megaphone at their expense.
"It's all in good fun! Did you guys get a chance to visit us during the week?" they asked. Unfortunately we hadn't and we asked what their camp was called.
"The Church of Compassionate Understanding!" (or something similar in name, but identical in intent.)
I was totally and completely unprepared to break up what I thought was a possible fisticuffs situation at THE CHURCH OF COMPASSIONATE UNDERSTANDING. We diffused the situation, made playa friends, and went to bed knowing that these were two drunk and crazy newlywed Canucks with no harm, just a harsh form of communication. Ben and I retreated to our camp and said goodnight as their fight began anew with the exact same intensity as before we intervened. It was nice to know that we hadn't made a fucking difference at all. The last thing I heard from the playa before I left was somebody yelling "GO TO BED YOU FUCKING LUNATICS!"
This may sound like a sad story, but for me it summed up what burning man is all about (or aboot, or however those fucking Canadians say it). Burning Man is about coming together in the worst of conditions with those you love and stripping away all social pretense and exposing your inner-core to the world and being loved despite of and because of it.