For all those who have been trying to reach me, I apologize. I’m in the process of moving. You know how it goes. Pack boxes, shut off the internet, find all things missing behind the couch and, for the first time ever, clean the carpets. The worst thing is the boxes, all the stuff you have to bury in a little cardboard casket to collect dust for another few years, until you remember that maybe you’re missing something.
Packing boxes isn’t all bad, though. Today, for instance, I happened to find a feathered bikini and a green wig in the bottom of a wooden drawer. Now there’s a story. There’s a memory. When was the last time I wore those?
It was 2004. I was sitting on the playa at the Burning Man Festival, wincing into the white glare of sunlight, worrying that the bikini was too damn small. It was my first time at Burning Man and I was an attempting to do something wild, be someone different. After all, I had just survived a horrible divorce, the destruction of a comfortable life . . . What to do? All of the responsible choices I had made over the years seemed to have gotten me absolutely nowhere. I was now ready to be irresponsible.
And there is no better place to be irresponsible than Burning Man, a week-long hedonistic celebration of art and philosophy set on the flat plane of the
While this may sound slightly suspicious, from a responsible person’s point of view, it turns out that the Burning Man Festival was founded by a man who had just endured a nasty break with his partner. He threw a beach celebration to mark the end of that chapter in his life and he invited all of his friends. They burned the effigy of a man at the end to symbolize his release. Of course, the festival now includes so many artists, spiritual types and lost souls (like myself in 2004) that it no longer has just one meaning, but I think the feeling is the same when, on the last day, the effigy is burned. Change. The death of one self and the birth of another.
In 2004, I wore that bikini that was too small and I danced in it. I laughed at a naked man wearing a Santa hat, and was left awestruck by the sculpture of an enormous flower that glowed with neon petals under the moon. I cried about my divorce, a lot. I modeled in a costume fashion show. I ate something that tasted like a hamburger but probably wasn’t. I hollered at a DJ and took a lover who was beautiful but definitely not serious. I learned that belly dancers can get irritable and that strangers can love you instantly and that you can always get ice, even if you only have one dollar left. And when The Man burned, I learned that I had nothing to fear, that life would always be beautiful, no matter what chapter I’m on. So there it is, the story of the feathered bikini. Not surprisingly, it now rests in a new place of honor, ready to be worn at a moment’s notice. And for all those who haven't been, tickets are on sale.