I came home and started to put down the experience of our first burn, Saguaro Man 2017. Getting through it I realize this will have to be broken down into thirds. It is a lot of experience and thoughts to have in one sitting. So, our Saguaro Man experience started before the actual event itself. Lists (oh my sweet burrito I love a good list!), meal planning, clothing planning, reading and studying (The 10 Principles), orientation, following along on a FB page, and Jeff giving a ride to a kid (okay “kid” is relative, he is the age of our “kid” so “kid” indeed) to get him closer to his desired meeting point to get to the event.
We are going to start with him because in many ways he was my introduction to this event. He is 26, grew up in North Carolina, travels the world with his dog, and is in search, it appears to me, of something bigger than himself. He has chosen to be “homeless.” My Mom kicks in and I asked him if he has ever been scared and surprisingly the scariest moment for him happened in Bakersfield, CA when a guy picked him up – he said he wasn’t right in the head and he feared he would crash the car. We grew up in B-Town and know the streets can be tough there. This is so interesting in that from speaking with him he hasn’t feared for his life from “bad people” and yet we know they are out there. He is interested and involved, and has met a lot of people on his journey. I have no doubt that this experience for him has been life changing. He keeps in touch with his family and when he has a need it seems to magically appear. So how is he the beginning of a burner experience? Without burning actual objects, his life is somewhat like the event itself. Everyday. Curiously, Saguaro Man 2017 was his first “burn” as well. Cory taught us a lot more than we taught him during our visits. We hope he finds his way.
But onto the actual burn event. We loaded up our Jeep and trailer (we brought way more stuff than was necessary) and headed out to the farm. The location is set back away from the world and there seems to be nothing but open land. In many ways it is just as I expected, a kind of gypsy camp. Structures were erected some with wooden fronts others with tarps and fabrics. There are markings for open camping and with what one may anticipate from a gypsy camp the maps/markings et cetera could have been a bit clearer, but somehow everyone finds their place…eventually. (I will have a political observation later, just for fun.) For instance we began to set up camp and found we were blocking an ingress/egress and had the pleasure of breaking down camp and moving back and over. Funny how things happen as well, we ended up with great neighbors.
And speaking of the people…Camp is mostly set up except the wind prohibited us from putting up our easy up on the first day. The absolute first thing you notice are the people. It is easy to tell those who are quite experienced at a burn and those of us who are new. Mostly. But that is kind of the thing, nothing and everything are as it seems. In that respect, Saguaro Man 2017 is just like life, only amplified. People are friendly but much like the big world there are no true connections made. I overheard someone speaking about finding your tribe. So maybe I am incorrect, maybe some do indeed make meaningful connections. Mostly I found that you wander and chat and then wander again. There are many sides to a burn, but really I came for the people.
There are all age groups and all different kinds of people. Some are sporting costumes, and some look like your neighbors…or your teachers. If I had to happen a guess, they all are there for one reason or another and it isn’t my place to assume such an intimate thing. But mostly (maybe) to let their hair down, or to pull it up, and there are no rules. Well mostly, if you cannot have an open mind this is not the place for you. This is where people go to let themselves hang out without judgement. We met a guy who “worked” at the sign stop. They make wooden signs, and he will make you stop, get out of the car and give him a hug. He is a bundle of energy. He has been doing burns for about ten years and this year his Mom came. He was completely thrilled that she was there at, Saguaro Man 2017. She finally understood why he loves going to burns. He is in his element. Where out in the world he may be a bit too much (seriously his energy…if we could capture it, bottle it and sell it we would be millionaires, however that goes against one of the principles). But here, he is just his bubbly outrageous self and seems to know everyone. And apparently it only takes one meeting for him to know you. I cannot imagine how huge his “friend” list is. And he is not alone. People flock here to be who they are. I want to say to be accepted, and maybe that is part of it too, but it feels like more than that. Possibly they can relax and not fit and in this little patch not fitting finally fits. It is an entire event full of contradictions.
Whatever your expectations are, they will be fulfilled, or you will be completely disappointed. I find it best to have no expectations and I was thrilled with the outcome. But how can you not have expectations? Again, the contradictions. I suppose it depends on your life experiences. For me, Saguaro Man 2017 wasn’t too far off from what I had anticipated or expected. And merging with the people is easy, or hard. It just depends on what it is you are in search of. Tomorrow we find art. Some elaborate, some not. I wanted to share, it didn’t happen, but that is okay because there is always next time.