What a summer it has been! Vancouver is so incredibly beautiful when the sun is shining! Now I know that there is nowhere on the planet I would rather be during the summer months.
Patrick and I are starting to really feel at home in our new space. It's a whole new world to be homeowners, and I think we are adjusting to the change quite nicely. Granted, we're taking our time finding all the right spots and perfect alignment for each picture, painting and mirror. And, yes...We still have a few boxes that remain unpacked. But that's the beauty of knowing we'll be here for awhile. We've got plenty of time to get it just right.
So, after much indecision and worry, I made my way South for my fifth year at Burning Man. I took a chance, as I wasn't really supposed to leave the country. Regardless of the risk, I couldn't really resist. Karen and Super Dave made it damn near impossible to say no. I can't even begin to thank them for their collective generosity. I didn't expect it, but this turned out to be my best year yet. And, I'm happy to report, crossing back into Canada could not have been more seamless and smooth.
I have to acknowledge the people that made my week so spectacular. After all, that really is what this year was about for me. I honestly can't even begin to explain how truly amazing my camp mates were...are. If you can imagine 40 or so of the most talented, generous, selfless, and nurturing individuals...then perhaps you're close to understanding what my week was like.
If you've spent more than five minutes with me, you know how ridiculously full of compliments I am. If I think you are lovely, I tell you...over and over and over again. Well...I was surrounded by people who are all equally forthcoming with their opinions. It felt like a creative cocoon, from which each of us could emerge to accomplish just about anything. Never have I felt so...accepted, respected, supported and admired by so large a group. It really is difficult to put into words, but one of my camp mates described it as falling in love over and over again.
I truly enjoyed everyone's company and spent my afternoons lounging at 'home', our basecamp at 3:30 & Fetish. I awoke every morning with noble intentions to get on my bike and explore the playa, but I could never make myself follow through. It just seemed that my camp provided all the entertainment I needed. I had many of those moments of uncontrollable laughter when you're convinced your bladder won't hold! I was even lucky enough to be a canvas for one of the most phenomenally talented artists I've ever met whom I will refer to as 'Chime'. He gave me a new sharpie tatoo everyday! And to add to my collection, Freddie scrolled the word 'Sassy' across my lower back in typical tatoo fashion. Early in the week, Mark dubbed me 'Sassypants' and it definitely stuck. I think it was fitting, as I felt particularly fiesty and playful this year.
As I made my way South, I had no idea that I would be contributing to an incredible project, but that's how things unfolded. My camp had been planning and preparing for months. I was simply fortunate enough to join their formitable efforts and help them bring their vision to fruition. We built a tibetan style tea temple in the middle of the open Playa and served high-quality Oolong tea. So many of our visitors thanked us profusely for the refuge. They said it was a little oasis from the chaos that surrounded us and that's precisely what it was. Quite unintentionally, I spent most of my week there. I just couldn't seem to make myself leave! Honestly, there was nowhere on the Playa I would rather have been. I suppose I needed the undeniable calm it offered.
On Tuesday evening, I happily entered the temple's inner circle and served tea with my new friend, Mark. It was, without a doubt, one of the most gratifying experiences of my life. Our guests were so patient, watching us steep and pour tea with such quiet gratitude. There was such a complete lack of expectation. People just seemed so sincerely thankful and relieved to have a moment off their feet, away from the dust and out of the wind. Some stumbled in for a moment of rest and remained seated at our tables for hours. It truly was a uniquely peaceful space amid an overwhelming swirl of noise and neon. I am just so thankful to have been part of such a lovely project.
Needless to say, I had a hard time saying goodbye. Parting ways with my sweet Karen was especially painful. Spending an entire week with her was precisely what I needed. We have a particularly wordless and comfortable connection that is all the more intense when we're on the Playa. Besides Patrick, she is the only person who finishes my sentences and I hers with eerie regularity. Sometimes conversation between us is simply unnecessary. I suppose that's what comes from maintaining such a close bond for 13+ years. As she says...we're little twin souls!
Readjusting to life back in Vancouver after such a...saturated...week has proven more challenging than I recall from previous years. For me, attending Burning Man is always a form of catharsis. It's subtle and difficult to define, but I always feel it on some level, however slight. The Playa is like sandpaper, softening and redefining my edges. Perhaps it's the dust...the ubiquitous substance that gets between all the cracks and forever changes a thing. I am by no means immune. I can wash my clothes and rinse my skin, but just like the cameras I've so reluctantly sacrificed to the desert, some bit of dust always remains in all those hard to reach places. It's an irreversable affliction and I am happily infected. I can only hope that the inspiration I gained throughout the week remains vibrant for the rest of the year.
Speaking of inspiration, I took more pictures this year than ever before so reducing them all to a manageable size is a terribly daunting task. I have begun, however, so you can expect a colorful new album sooner than you might think.
Until then...here's a snapshot to wet your palette...