Burning Man 2017 – Last but Not Least

Heading out on our art car, a three headed dog with painted flames, FJ was grinning with heaps of wide-eyed excitement and more than ready to participate when we stumbled upon a game by the name of “Running of the Balls” in which participants are given red scarves before launching out to try to flatten others wearing gigantic clear beach balls. Quickly becoming a we bit too sure of herself after taking one one of the balloon boys down, she cracked those of us watching up when the next one launched her into the air and right onto her ass for her first dusty moment on the playa. Experiencing the new excitement radiating through her, it was the first time I got to see a virgin have their own first experiences of the burn. It was then that I understood why seasoned burners so loved witnessing it and I couldn’t wait for more.

The 2017 burn being over 100º all day almost (if not) every day didn’t make it easy to set up our own little camp and was extra painful considering I had just struggled through making my own makeshift setup a couple days earlier to use until she got there. Taking dizzy breaks, the heat gave us a chance to sit back and enjoy the Real Estate moguls from Alabama we built off next to us. An older man and one close to our age who we soon deemed as the Bayeux Bros. We also enjoyed watching the Broasis form on the other side of us as more hot guys arrived and started to build their own neighborhood within the camp. Realizing that we didn’t have our own name for our little spot in that neighborhood of men (some cool Israeli guys from different places in the states were also set up behind us), FJ quickly stepped in and cracked me up when claiming the name in our little corner of the camp as the Bro Hoes.

Continuing firsts later that night, FJ and I hopped on our bikes and the bros on foot to head out for deep playa. In an altered state of opening our minds, FJ and I soon separated from the fellas and went off to explore on our own. That was when FJ had the inevitable experience of becoming so overwhelmed with how big and how much the burn is that she “popped”. Looking around in an almost panic while struggling to take in the vastness and ask questions, she stood there in a state of being overwhelmed and just couldn’t seem to be able to finish her thoughts. Another moment that brought back memories of my virgin burn put a smile on my face.

When asked about Burning Man, life changing is one of the terms often used as an answer. A vague response that drives me bananas in that it doesn’t give any reason as to why. In an attempt to give a bit of detail as to why, I often include the layout of the city in that there are different themed neighborhoods such as sound camps (raver scene), more spiritual, sexual, partying, family friendly, sober, workshops, etc. Diversity and so much of what it has to offer in that gives each individual a chance to make the burn their own. What is a common across the board is that it’s almost always super physical and intense on multiple levels. Besides the inhospitable climate of survivalist camping, lack of rest, constantly being overstimulated and so active all the time that even your mode of transportation is a bike (yes you need this), there are also extremes that, while having some of the biggest “wow” moments of life, also come with some of the biggest lows. Ones that would send many burners running if it wasn’t such a challenge to get in and out. Lasting nine days for “normal” entry creates an environment where those things have to be processed and moved on from.These are the top two reasons that come to mind as reasons the burn is so life changing.

One of our campers, a sweetheart of a young fella from Hawaii, had his moment when he jumped off the back of our slowly moving art car (BIG nono) one afternoon and later drunkenly took off in his girlfriend’s car (even bigger no no) to high-tail it out of the burn. Something that lead to one of my own lowest lows when I stayed back from wandering the playa on the art car (one of my favorite things) with some of our crew to be there for her (happy I did that) as she cried on my shoulder and later dragged me out on foot. With feet that were already battered and bruised, exactly what I didn’t want and what lead to my getting stuck by myself for what felt like an eternity on a white chair about 50 times the size of a regular one thanks to the building pain. Before that happened, however, were some of the year’s highs in that we stumbled upon what was to be one of my favorite camps of the year, Dante’s InFURno, where furries were dancing on stripper poles while we lounged in the largest hand-crafted hammock style chairs I have ever encountered.

Making it all the way to Reno, NV three hours away, her boyfriend managed to get the space he needed process and get himself back to the playa. While our camp wasn’t thrilled with the whole situation, we understood and were impressed by the strength of his mental (and physical) journey and the need to eat crow once back. FJ had her moment as well when missing a bartending shift with me at the Twisted Swan that was meant to act as a thank you for the hookup of her ticket. An unfortunate situation started by the Bayeux Bros moving her bike at a large day party camp they had been at earlier. An act that caused her to lose her transportation when it was time for her to head back to meet me given that they were nowhere to be found. A shitty situation that left her in a tear-filled panic for the next few hours while trying to figure it out which, in turn, created one of her lows of the week. Still feeling terrible the next day, she did manage to find her way over to The Swan in the blazing heat to apologize with a bottle of whiskey.
Every single burner has an insurmountable number of experiences and special moments worth a mention. At the same time, it’s impossible to see even a fraction of everything it has to offer. A swinger couple who were to be my road-dawgs for much of the week, S&M, S originally from the UK and M from Germany, amazed me with their ability to keep going. At one point M broke her foot on a large slide (Burning Man being a large playground for adults = injuries) but continued to stay out all day and night exploring, playing and dancing on crutches. Shortly after her injury, we had an unexpected moment of spirituality and calm amidst our rowdy fun when the lamplighters, a group of burners in flamed white robes carrying rows of kerosene lamps hanging from long thin pieces of timber upon their shoulders, walked by in a procession to light the pathway to the man. Getting back to the excitement once they had passed with the beautiful peacefulness of their tradition, I was doing my happy dance when unexpectedly spotting one of my favorite camps from the past, Hardley’s, out there on the playa away from the neighborhoods. Wishing the crew was keen to stay longer, I found a compromise when Stephen and I made a quick stop in the 24 hour whisky saloon bar for a shot before pedaling on. There were so many fun moments. An outdoor roller rink, bartending at our camp’s annual martini party (as well as the Swan’s), dancing on a pirate ship art car…too many to even remember.

Like every year, I was surprised by struggles I didn’t expect or, at the very least, thought I would have learned to fair with better being that it was my third burn. Beyond realizing that I was ill-prepared to set up my own spot in camp upon arrival, trying to figure out how to give back while only managing little tasks such as cleaning the bar and doing things needed by someone tall made for an awkward experience. Also, while thankful to be able to sleep in until 9 AM a few days, I was still often grouchy and physically exhausted. Something that unfortunately fell on people such as FJ and a sweetheart of a Jewish man who never seemed to stop talking.

Giving this man the playa name Mr. Yappy, FJ and I were both on the same page of fed-up exhaustion when ditching him after he had gone to do some clay pottery at the neighboring camp to where we were laying down. Already exhausted (like every moment of every day), we had been extra bummed, and in need of some quiet, to try to find our zen after getting to a hair wash camp only to find out that it was full for the day. Once sneaking out and getting back to camp, FJ headed over to flirt with Bama and I the opposite direction to lounge on a leopard couch in the front of the camp where I could catch up on writing and go through our guidebook to look for camps/events that interested me.
The burner community being what it is, random people stopped by to say hi. One of whom was an inspirational man in a wheelchair who told me about being one of the fire spinners surrounding the man the night of the burn. Also how he was working on setting up a Mobility Camp to empower those with physical disabilities. So. Fucking. Awesome.
Eventually giving up once Martini Man started dripping ice on me, I packed it up and headed out for a day-bar pub crawl with Stephen and Mirjam on my way to the year’s live music session at the Twisted Swan. It felt great when everyone there was so excited to see me and it was always a riot to see people from Ireland and Scotland in shenanigan mode. One charismatic red-headed Irish dude cracked me up when using the ploy of going for his beer to stick his head under my dress. Consensual, of course. The community keeps a close eye on that.

Later that evening and even more exhausted than normal when getting back to camp (mid crash burn), I had originally planned to go to bed early but the night had other plans. Figuring that, since I was going to bed early, I might as well pound some beers for a nice little buzz and tiny bit of fun when a group of us headed out on the playa in the art car for sunset. Downside of doing that is that, upon arrival back in camp, I was sprinting to the port-a-potties without lights on me. That’s when it happened. I GOT SHIT ALL OVER ME! Everyone’s worst blue cube nightmare: a port-a-potty covered in shit. How does that even happen?!? Tearing off my clothes as I ran screaming into camp for Jewels to get more water and meet me in the makeshift shower, she was clueless as to why I was freaking out as she kept exclaiming that I needed to be careful not to get the mint soap in my eyes as I scrubbed myself down Ace Ventura style. At the moment I finally started to calm down, S came prancing in while half-singing “ooh!” as he mistakenly thought something kinky was going on. Taking off his silver barely-there hot pants as he climbed onto the platform, I stood there frozen with an inability to grasp the absurdity of it all as he rubbed up on me slapping my ass for an absolutely opposite twist from the nasty experience that had just happened. A combo that was so weird that it could have only been at the burn.

Moving on an hour later, I asked S if he was sure about taking shots when we ended up in the dark and empty bar. Fun that lead to getting caught by a sweet and petite older woman, Mighty, when we started getting a little naughty in another way. A short while later, after eating wieners with the camp on their annual night for it, a group of us settled down in the shanty neighborhood of camp around the conversion van of two of my absolute favorite new playa pals, April and Jay, for a smoke and chat. Well, everyone except S who kept dropping his already barely there drawers and crawling around all the crew, mostly dudes, with his dick swinging in their faces while exclaiming against my attempts to calm him down that it was OK because it wasn’t that big. His wife, always calm and in good humor, just sat there barely noticing except to mention that he often got like that a lot when he was wasted and was well-known for it. It was all in good fun and eventually lead to the crew having a lube competition on his entire body. That, ladies and gentlemen, is another example of how one can earn a playa name. For him it was Lube Doll.

Always being the biggest party I have been to in the world, we took the art car out the night the man burned. Following that, FJ and I wandered off on our bikes with Lube Doll and M to once again dance the night away. Keep in mind that she’s been rocking all this on the broken foot from days before. FJ and I leaving the other two and missing sunrise by an hour, she just couldn’t take any more. A bummer in that I wanted her to experience what I believe it to be one of the most magical moments on the playa but, alas, impossible to fight once the playa has done you in.

Continuing the curse of my road-dawgs not wanting to stay for the temple burn the next day, the most spiritual moment of the burn and especially important to me in regard to coping with the four people I had recently lost (along with my fur-baby Layla I lost before my first year/what my first burn had become about), I ended up breaking down camp in 110° heat while FJ mostly sat around with the Bayeux Bros and flipped out on me (she genuinely apologized a couple weeks later) about how she didn’t want drama as I tried to keep myself from passing out and struggled to hold back a pouting and pissy attitude while I worked. A situation, BTW, that didn’t end up with us leaving before the temple burned but later did with us struggling to stay awake behind the wheel. Yeah. It was breakdown day in more ways than one. I am proud to say that it took us that long, however. Couples break up and get back together sometimes more the than once at the burn. We lasted all the way until the end. Pretty impressive.

The term “expect the unexpected” is on steroids at Burning Man. I was devastated about missing the temple burn until all of the sudden it ended up becoming what lead to one of my favorite moments. Hanging in camp and, as we saw the smoke starting to rise against the sunset, I walked over to our sweetheart of a Hawaiian Israeli camper (different guy) who was standing there watching and wrapped my arms around him while we looked on in silence. Soon FJ joined us in our embrace as I started to describe what I had seen in the temple over the past years and my understanding of it. People who had been through what I had (and so much worse) with loss but also those enduring a terminal illness, who had survived diseases like cancer, rape, refugees, previously living on the street, those who were coping with some kind of other horrible types of abuse and much more. Survivors but also love. Also all kinds of pure love.
His way of processing was to stand there in tear-filled silence as my words connected to him in his way while FJ’s way was to share her own experiences and struggles. Standing there, the three of our arms wrapped around each other, we found a moment of healing and peace. That moment was the grand finale. For me, it was what makes the burn such a big part of my everything.

Now…time to get ready for next year…

Burning Man 2017 – The Meat Mid Week

I often think about how much the burn is similar to the rest of my travel in that both create a foundation of constant learning, changing and adjusting. A continuous state of fluidity full of pleasure, pain, entertainment and the hot mess I seem to always become along the way.
One learning lesson that quickly hit home during the burn of 2017 was that coming early entry and also leaving a day or two late are likely to provide a more relaxed and balanced experience. Mostly for avoiding the hours of lines getting in and out but also for a few other reasons. To help build/be more involved with my camp and having more down time with them during the first couple days before full insanity kicks in. Also before I start wandering. Avoiding the hiProvide API access token / Usernamegh-traffic confusion and dust the vehicles coming in are kicking up once gates officially open ain’t that bad either. Last but far from least is the plus of avoiding falling asleep behind the wheel at the end with an extra night’s sleep. That is if I can deal with the sadness of the city being broken down around me.
Being gifted the chance to watch the burn be birthed when coming early entry was a first and lead to one of my most magical moments of the year when I found my favorite art installation before it was even fully set up. The Tree of Ténéré with its LED lights changing color and ability to climb on/interact with it transported me into a magical place of “oh yeah – this is why I do this.”. The earlier to find that first happy moment the better as it is crucial to counteract the not-so-pleasant feelings that come with all of the work and sacrifice leading up to that point.
Hanging in camp pre-start date was another highlight of the trip for another reason in that I actually got to chill enough to see the love between campmates along with the depth both of individuals themselves and their connection to the burn. My soul needs the art, of course, but what the burn brings out of us – walls it brings down, humanity, equality and the connection to each other, is by far what has makes TTITD home.

When gates were officially opened a couple days after my arrival and the inevitable energy amp that came with, a couple of us wandered off to check out the oldest dive bar on the playa, HOTD! (Hair Of The Dog) with its fun live band and a mist fan that was heaven on such a hot desert day. Also padding the discomfort was the shots of booze offered out of a stuffed dog’s dingaling. Weird, I know. A little too much for me but, hey. That’s the burn.
Later that night a few of us campmates left to explore The Esplanade and Deep Playa. For those of you who haven’t burned, picture this: the temporary city is a circle with the “suburbs” being half of the outer circle on one side and deep playa (nothing but art installations and room for art cars to roam) on the other. The larger and more grandiose the theme camp, the closer it’s placed to the inner-circle (as long as it did well in matters such as rating well with MOOP and adding to the community the year before). The most inner half-circle of playa without camps set up is known as the Esplanade. Here is where the open space and larger art installations start, though the “downtown” of the city, Center Camp, (carnival-style tent where you can buy ice and coffee) is randomly located in a different spot a few rows in.
The second official day was an interesting mix of the burn already buzzing but also not fully up and running since many camps were still being built and the activities hadn’t started. After looking for some that were, a new campmate by the playa name of Sugey and I finally ended up at a legit mist bar (pretty sure it was over 100° every day) that was practically raining in its large tent structure that had been set up while campers came by with champagne. One of the moments I am still most thankful for as I was dizzy and almost passing out due to underestimating how many camps would be open on the Esplanade to duck into. Also for trying to keep up with a fella in his early twenties. Story of my life.
Further wandering around after that to different camps and those experiences that came about along the way, I got my ass spanked with a “love” pattal, walked into a spa with a drunk massage therapist smoking a cig, had all my clothes ripped off at Naked Tiki Bar in order to earn my necklace for the year (naturally) and we helped some poor guy with a ton of ice he was lugging back to camp by himself. Something I was glad to do despite it finishing off a blister already forming on my heel and bringing me back to a woozy enough state to make it a struggle to get back to camp.

After my second burn, I had adamantly sworn to myself that I would get to more workshops. During this, my third, in reality, I only made it to one. At least it was the one I was most set on, an intro to tantra. Happy I at least made there, it ironically ended up being a little too basic, though I was happy to realize that I already had a bit of basic experience and knowledge. It was another pleasantry to find out that the man leading the workshop was about to put on a seminar with a woman I had done some freelance work with to put on an event in the poly and tantra world a few years before. Loving the way community, camaraderie and the degrees of separation always comes with a pleasant magic and a little bit or surprise no matter how many time we experience it.
So many things happened those first three days. My campmate Sweet Cheeks taught me how to work on bikes, I started getting to know everyone (all the while being teased about FJ) and I got the chance to finally use the burner business cards I had made the year before when leaving a couple at Brigit and Aaron’s camp, Go the Fuck to Sleep, so they would know that I had stopped by. Always a must, I found our closest mist camp, Mystopia (as did the rest of my campmates), where I was to constantly zombie out on love sacks over the next few days. Another daily must was finding the closest foot wash camp where I had an experience of getting my feet washed by a boy volunteering. Amazing to see kids learning how to be full of love and giving back so young 💗. Wader-biking around and constantly getting lost, I found a cowboy style post-apocalyptic day bar where I stopped for a vodka red bull (first time I’ve had one of those is a decade and a half) and a deep random chat with a fella who told me about his life journey. The first real moment for the year with the kind of connective conversation that make it so special. I also ran around at night with my new mate from Australia, Rek Steady (among other playa names), to check out art as an end to those first few days full of the kind of life-reassuring experiences that come from going to the burn.
Bartending at the camp’s annual party was fun as were the really cool group of hot dudes in their twenties and thirties from California who showed up and whose area of our camp was quickly deemed as the Broasis. What I didn’t find fun was all the random wandering we did without getting anywhere. Something understandable for virgins, a demographic I was around/camped with a ton for the year, but frustrating for me as an out of shape and impatient third-year who prefers to hang in neighborhood camps where it’s easier to bond with others. What was great, and yet another favorite for the year, was when my new campmate and pal Venessa and I wandered out onto the playa in the wee hours and happened across the Hug Deli.

Once there we volunteered to give different kinds of hugs ordered in exchange for payment in the form of compliments. My two favorites being when she was hilarious in giving an “awkward hug” ordered where, in the few times the man started to pull away, she brought it right back in. My other favorite hug was the Cinnamon Roll. The way that one worked was where a line of people held hands and rolled in causing the inside person to be squished in the middle while everyone else wrapped around for different levels of the same. It was near impossible not to laugh the whole time.

Just as with all travel, watching people fall into passionate love, even if only for a few days, is one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve been lucky enough to encounter. While that new (and still now) burner bud Venessa and the playa lover she made for the year, a total sweetie and hot surgeon from across the pond, might feel a bit awkward agreeing, I choose to believe that they did. Even if only having the chance to be together for a week, it was one of the most real and wonderful things I was around for the year.
I even developed a few crushes of my own (I’m a sucker for sweet with a touch of endearingly innocent/nerdy) and had a little fun myself. Overall that wasn’t where I was emotionally, so for the first time, I didn’t have a full-blown romantic playa partner. Kind of a bummer in that deep emotional bonds are what the burn is most about for me but even that provided a new way for me to grow.

The moment finally came when FJ was to arrive. Earlier that day, when once again turning into a stoned zombie from the crazy heat (and maybe some special chocolate-covered-blueberries), I found my way through blurred eyes to a hammock camp (still too hot) and then to Mistopia before heading back to my camp to wait. Worried that she would get held up at the gate by the little bit of dust and rain we got for the year, it was surprising to hear upon her arrival that she had practically zoomed right in.
Expecting her to take longer to get through, I was in the makeshift shower that had been set up when she arrived. A situation that caused her to be greeted by Martini Man instead of me. Burning Man is clothing optional but it’s rare to see someone completely naked with no body art. Off the norm in that way, Martini Man is a gruff East-Coast personality who has been burning for over twenty years and a nudist who enjoyed peacocking. Something she was to find out when one of her first experiences on the playa was him coming out swinging, if you know what I mean. Further greeting her into camp, he plopped down with bigger balls than either of us had ever seen displayed through spread legs on a couch in the bar without a towel to sit on. Cringe-worthy but also one of the most hilarious moments of the year. Welcome to Burning Man, FJ.

Getting to Burning Man – Early Entry

Yes ladies and gentlemen, I am now officially three burns in. Whoop whoop!

As is customary, this one was a doozy full of high highs and low lows with both sides being packed full of self-growth, fun, exhaustion, hell and learning about myself. Something proven for weeks before leaving by the intensity being dialed up through avenues such as buying and making supplies and costumes as well as working twelve hours a day right up to the day of takeoff to pay for it all. Add to that my not being able to sleep the night before and I got my first unexpected twist by conceding to the reality that I didn’t have the stamina to create the dust-combatting cool-crazy braided hair pattern I had planned. A bummer example of how we can’t have it all in a world of the never-ending playa list. Unless “having it all” was referring to what felt like the entire playa on my head.

Finding a rideshare through an online Facebook networking page for such Burning Man needs, the two burners who were to be my road-dawgs until 3 AM two days later arrived somewhere around 8 PM. A little later than expected but not uncommon. Especially when it comes to the intensity and detail of everything that should be done for this particular event. That late arrival may not have been a flag, especially knowing that I’m not great at being patient, but it did set a platform to launch the oddities the man driving/providing the transport was about to bestow upon us two ladies. The first not-so-small sign soon after being when Jewels offered to let him use her extra bike to which his response was pretty offensive in that he was so picky about it, it almost felt like he thought he was doing US a favor. OK, whatever, but it did have me scratching my head about why he hadn’t figured out one of the most foundational basics (bikes are our cars out there) before picking up the two of us commuting in with him.
Follow that with stopping where his friend was storing his car and the arrangement began to fall farther down the rabbit hole. Chaos isn’t too weird when it comes to Burning Man with the ridiculous amount of detail and out of the ordinary personalities but when it seemed like he was actually cleaning out his car, it took some effort to not get grouchy. That was weird.

Getting to/from the burn is a trek within itself. Then, once you arrive to the entry line, it’s nowhere near time to exhale. To get through that usually takes hours and then you have to find your designated spot on the playa and set up camp. I’ve begrudgingly gotten used to exhaustion being a part from before until after the event with setup being the worst. It should be said that I’ve heard it gets easier once you can start accumulating stuff, but with my travel, that ain’t likely to happen any time soon.

Making what felt like a million stops on the way in while also expecting us to pay equal gas despite the trailer he was hauling, our host left us scratching our heads even more when he seemed to want to stop for everything from flip-flops to an expensive grocery store to grab a bite (though he did buy us all ice creams 👍) to bike lights. It was so bad that we even had to stop multiple times to find a place to print out his ticket. HE HADEN’T EVEN PRINTED OUT HIS TICKET! That could have tacked hours onto the trip if turned away due to problems pulling up the ticket digitally. It’s happened before.
By this point I was going bananas and didn’t know how Goldilocks (playa name) was keeping her cool when even she had made a comment about wondering if we were ever going to get there hours before. By the end I was responding to this dude with sarcastic humor and had to completely keep my mouth shut in order to stop myself from flashing on him when we got pulled over and sniffed out by police dogs right after he had disregarded her comments to slow down to the speed limit so that exact thing didn’t happen.
Lucking out with her as such a rad travel companion to balance out that of the opposite, she had kept him chatted up with her relaxed and patient attitude while I (surprisingly) slept most of the way. While still not happy, I couldn’t help but change my train of thought to a certain extent with her reminder that such oddities were all a part of the adventure. Thank God for that woman and all her awesomeness.

Getting to the camp spot at my theme camp, Leopard Martini Lounge, where I was to set up, it quickly became apparent that I should have given the equipment a test-run when pulling out my supposed tent only to discover that it was nothing but a screen structure. Something I would find out later was likely because one of Julia’s friend had previously borrowed it and not returned all of the pieces. Super shout out to both of my two road-warriors, even (begrudgingly) him, for being bodacious burners by helping me to figure it out somewhere in that 3 AM hour when noticing my struggles.

Next up, after we had set up and taken that back down, was when the new easy-up Jewels had ordered proved to be missing any way to zip the walls shut as she had thought. An important detail to keep dust out, though it wouldn’t have mattered much anyway, as the reality was that the structure caused too much of a threat to blow away if fully erected. Something I should have been aware of. My bad.
Sleeping with only one of the walls half up and half wrapped around me for protection from the harsh environment (thank Thor there weren’t any dust storms), I was mentally bowing down to one of my new campmates when he lent me a tent the next morning.

Side note my FRFers: it was around there that “Fuckin Jewels” was born. A playa name she was to get a kick out of even before getting there.

Burning Man is one of those “expect the unexpected” places where we learn a lot about ourselves. I learned that I was nowhere near as self-sufficient as I had thought and had never really handled everything on my own for or at the burn. Something that became painfully apparent as I constantly fumbled my way around trying to figure out how to do without the key necessities Jewels was bringing in when she got there a few days later. Situations that became a joke every time something went wrong or was missing in that it was labeled as her fault no matter how ridiculous. Can’t find your favorite rainbow unicorn nipple covers? “Fuckin Jewels.” Stub your toe? “Fuckin Jewels!” Don’t know where you put down your cocktail? “FUCKING JEWELS!” At one point my campmates started to wonder if she was even real.

Instantly both impressed and grateful for my new campmates, it was pretty cool to be with a theme camp where many of the folks had been coming for over twenty years. Amongst other reasons, because it helped drive home the awe of how much more Burning Man can be than just a party. Something that was driven home even further by spending time on the playa before the chaos that was to come once the event technically started. Hanging out in between trying to help set up camp on that first day included fun random stories such as one about how a woman had once called a puddle of water on a chair a coochie wash and another from one of our geologist campers who told the tale about how a student of hers had shot a bear the year before. Anyone else picturing The Revenant?
Doing my best as a camp newbie (which means mostly standing there clueless and confused) to pitch in toward helping to construct the bar and three-headed dog art car along side of all of the camp’s incredibly hard workers, I even lucked out when one of LML’s old-timers, Sweet Cheeks, helped me fix the flats on FJ (Fuckin Jewels) and my bikes in his bike repair tent. Random note for future burners: try to stay away from Walmart beach cruisers. Unless you think flat tires are fun, that is.

Keeping in line with the dreamlike randomness of the burn, the first moment of witnessed on-playa drama came when a waisted burner got really upset thinking another campmate had cut into the front of line for a burger and just couldn’t get over it. Another example of how such an extreme and over-stimulating experience provides lows as well as the highs and they don’t necessarily make sense.

The spirit of the burn took no time to kick up, even from the first day of hitting the road. Randomly jumping on a dragon art car full of Germans in between camp duties that first afternoon in the midst of trying to find camps of burner buds Cassie, Brigit and Aaron already seemed the norm. So did B randomly finding me lost after visiting C with a huge blister on my heel from new playa boots. I was finally back there rolling in the dust. I was home.

Phase Three – Turning Matter to Liquid

Today I woke up at 5:30 AM, threw on a bikini after getting some morning doggie-love and walked out the door. Working my way to OB (Ocean Beach), I got stuck behind a man being pulled on a skateboard by his dog. Traffic these days.
A few hours later, work lead me to a spot where I could walk barefoot in the grass and then an hour after that, to spend some time at the beach in Coronado for some fun reading and writing. Continuing on, I got to to meet cool people through driving for rideshare (so fun but pay is shit) and hit a lot of my beloved spots in San Diego. I also worked out, met half of my minimum earnings goal for the day and handled all my other business, all before noon. Not every day is as on point (not even close) but this particular day is an example of how much closer my life has come to hitting it’s stride.

Yeah, things are going good. More than good and boy did I luck out with the roomie/pal for this stint in the country who you were introduced to in my last post, Jewels. Also with her lovely pups and awesome pad. Perfect location, style and in the rare moments I’m not working, we have a blast. Not too surprising considering how much we already knew to be in common. It’s also a relief to finally have my whole family together and heart-warming to think about how we’ve never been closer. Yes, my super sweet mom still drives me bananas. Last but not least, I’m also seeing my honorary sisters-pals more. Score.

Until really thinking about the details, I thought that all of this meant that I was at the beginning of year three. In reality it’s only been two years, four months and eleven days since I lost my pup. In other words, the moment that changed everything. What’s really going on is that I’ve entered the third stage, not year, of this Digital Nomad lifestyle. Wow. Third stage. I’m really in now.

The first was when I broke down my old life and got rid of not only my belongings but also my ego. Remember that? Ouch. I said no to a couple good job offers even though broke and most of the people in my life, not to mention the universe, seemed to be against what I was doing. Thank God for discovering the healing and support of Burning Man. Now a main focus in my life. Just got back from my third burn, BTW. Expect those posts next. Oh yeah, baby. Oh yeah.

Stage two: finally starting to travel. That happened when finally jetting off overseas to Thailand the first time and locking the train onto it’s track in terms of career, travel and The Burn. Graduating to that step meant that it was time to dive into the world and accept all the hot-mess that came with it. It’s a good thing that I was that so gung-ho when leaving for Phuket the first time or I never would have had the tenacity to keep going once I got there and reality kicked in. Originally adamant that I was going to move there, it only took me a couple days to realize (more like finally to stop being stubborn and admit) that I had no idea what I was doing. Also that I’m not the type to travel the world without money or without needing a few days here and there in nicer places in order to stay rested, balanced and sane. Also that I should probably get around the entire world before committing to one place (duh) and that my lifestyle will likely continue be too fluid to commit to anything for quite some time. The most unexpected lesson I have learned is that I will probably experience more cultural immersion through other travelers and expats than locals. Makes sense now, don’t it.

That brings me to where I am today. The people in my life believe in me now. They help, love and support me. That’s how I got to this burn. My burner bud, Brigit, refused to allow me to accept defeat and helped me figure it out. Even my much more mainstream sis stepped up to help make it happen with comments about how proud she is of me. *tear*

The new roomie, Jewels, being both fun-loving and nurturing, has been the newest and strongest constant source of great support. Not to forget the folks and my pals Juliette, Wren (RIP), Bonnie, Chris and, once again, Brigit and Aaron, who helped me figure everything out when I was stranded in Thailand. SHOUT OUT!

It’s hard, if not impossible, to do it all without the help of others. That being said, it’s my time to graduate up. Pay off old debts and make sure I have a better pad before leaving again. Also enough income coming in when I’m overseas. Fingers crossed that an online ESL teaching gig I just landed works out. I’ll keep you posted.

Moving forward, travel plans have changed from visiting friends in France and Barcelona for a few weeks this summer to a few months in Central and South America starting in February. Who really knows, though. Fluid, baby. See? I’m learning!

Road Trip! New Pals, Wine and Dog-Loving Along the California Coast.

Jewels and I had known each other for a couple years via Facebook when realizing that we were both a part of the same San Diego beach community, Ocean Beach, and had graduated on the same day from the same school. Her with her masters and me with my BA. Finally. Without ever having met, she had offered me a place to stay if/when ever needed during the time that I was stranded during the ‘ol pickpocket incident in Ko Phi Phi. After that, when I started thinking about my plan for where I was going to crash back at home for the summer, I thought it good karma to give her first shot at some extra cash. Something that, having lived on her own in her (I was soon to find out) amazing pad for years, she was a little nervous about but still gave an excited yes! On a weekly trial period, of course. Perfect for the life of a digital nomad.

Back in the Bay a week or two later I was getting excited for departure finally closing in but also a bit bummed about doing another trip alone. On a whim, it dawned on me that she just may want to join. Something that proved to be true when I asked as a similar trip she had been planning fell through. As it turned out, we also had both being going through hell with things that had recently happened to loved ones. We were in the right zone to feed our souls and recover while sprinkling in some fun. It was certainly feeling like one of those serendipitous moments where people are brought into each other’s lives for a reason.

When pulling up to the Oakland airport, I instantly knew it was the right decision when spotting her at the curb in her floppy hat, cutoff shorts and shirt that read “Fuck it ⚓️ Let’s Drink”. Driving up, my expectations had already surpassed as I jumped out of the car for a big hug before hitting the road with instant laughter as she told the story of her rad flight with drinks, a cute dog and a handsome man. Oh yeah. We were on our way.

Hitting the road directly to Napa Valley, it was time for wine. And a lot of pictures with dogs everywhere we went. Crazy dog-ladies unite!

After conspiring to turn Jewels into my freelance assistant in order to work the perks angle of my writing for a luxury lifestyle magazine at home in San Diego, we made a quick stop at Robert Mondavi Winery (nice venue though too commercial for our taste) before making it to a spot that was expecting us down the street by the name of Peju Province Winery. Proving to be much more in line with what we were looking for, both the grounds and interior offered a unique and creative atmosphere with a Pinocchioesque style building (as the friend who had taken me the month before described) with a beauty and uniqueness that radiated through design and art both inside and on the grounds. All details that make it one of the wineries I eagerly recommend in the region.

With tastings by invitation only, we should have known better, but were quickly misbehaving by jumping into the property’s focal point, a fountain, behind a sign expressly asking not to do so with a fun group from Texas who were regulars. Love me a bad influence.

After tasting some good wine there, Jewels, in honor of being an interested horticulturist, got the lowdown from a long-time older gentleman filling her in on the detailed history of the beautiful and unique plant life at the end, of which, we enjoyed a greatly entertaining “drop the mic” moment when he turned abruptly once done and unexpectedly walked away. Adding even more to that moment of entertainment, his turning around to repeat after our giggled comments that, yes, he had indeed dropped the mic.

Moving on to V. Sattui Winery, (another nod to the same friend, Renee, for the intro) not far down the road, we tasted wine and shopped in their gourmet marketplace full of fancy cheeses (a weakness for us both) and other deliciously fancy options that can easily add up to a worthy picnic to be enjoyed on their ample grassy grounds. Something we took full advantage of until the day started to slip away. Looking for a place to witness one of her beloved sunsets, something I’m sad to say we didn’t end up finding, we did find an amusingly awkward happy hour at a lovely restaurant that looked like an old and large white-washed barn turned restaurant with live music. Excited at first, until scoping the crowd of which appeared to be a little too uptight and awkward, even amongst their own. Something that gave us a *scratch our heads* moment considering we were from from the super friendly and social beaches of San Diego.

Moving onto a large local dive bar with a lonely older gentleman stuck in his glory days in tow (we were taking pity on him because he had a cute dog), I promptly mistook the grandson of a winery owner as an employee by the way he was leaning with arms back on the side of the bar with a bored expression on his face. Something we thought he had blown off with a laugh until a woman came up to us with a “do you know who he is” kind of comment. Cutting her off with a stern “OK, BYE”, sure it was annoying, but it also came with it’s own level of entertainment.

Taking our leave somewhere around the 10 – 11 PM hour (driving meant no more drinks for me) and stopping to charge my fully-electric car, we made it to our hotel around midnight and even managed to get up in decent shape for the next day’s escapades.

Hitting the main strip of downtown Monterey first, a street named Cannery Row, we got right back to tasting at a wine room by the name of Carmel Ridge Winery of which I had already given a mention in that month’s magazine issue. Afterward we made our way to an Airbnb I had insisted on staying at, as it had both a Robin and a Wren Room. The name of a friend who had recently been lost to heartbreaking circumstances. Having an emotional moment with the older woman who owned the house and her husband, she had added to the symbolic nature of that brief (and expensive) stay by showing us some bird eggs that were due to hatch any moment. Even more, Jewels spotted a Blue Heron. Also symbolic in a way that heightened the depth of our trip, whether in our head or not.

Stopping at the Big Sur River Inn for a bite before heading to our shuttle pickup in Andrew Molara State Park, we lucked out in that we made it there on the first weekend of the Sur Transportation shuttle service. Something now offered for folks to once again have a way to get around Big Sur until the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge rebuild is complete. Well, “up” may be a better way to phrase the service than “around” as participants are taken to the bottom of a mountain where a steep and notably challenging, though not too terribly long, trail by the name of Pfeiffer Canyon foot trail had been forged by locals and those working on restoration for a beautiful option that allowed us to make it to Nepenthe Restaurant. A place with views of the ocean, forrest and even horseback riders that falls pretty high up in the “wow” moments of my travels.

Continuing on our trip as traveling road warriors, we made it to Paso Robles later that night and had an amazing time at Tobin James. A winery Jewels was eager to go to as she was already a fan of their wine. After that, LXV Winery. A tasting room that pairs sensual and exotic wines with spices that I had also previously written about. Happy campers with the new friends we made and stream of pups coming in with them, we were even lucky enough to be given an impromptu performance from one of the women working there.

It was all fantastic. It was also time to go home.

Home….San Diego… It had been too long and my world had changed. Evolved. What did “home” mean any more? I can only imagine how much more I’ll continue to feel like that as I get further in.

What I can’t imagine is San Diego ever not being my life’s location foundation. I was absolutely homesick for it and, with a couple more coastal stops to charge the car, was super excited to get back. Even so, I was already thinking about buying my next ticket.

Compartmentalizing – Learning How to Lift My Spirits

Life almost always brings us shit and shine at the same time. Until somewhere in my thirties, I had been so consumed with trying to find happiness without hardships also weaved in that I often looked right past the good stuff. Somewhere within the last few years, I have finally started to understand what so many have tried to tell me. Life will never work like that.

My last post was full of the darkness and pain of recent losses. Now it’s time to switch over to the beautiful moments I’ve managed to create in order to cope and remind myself of the beauty in this life.

The Garden of Eden in Felton, CA is a natural watering hole surrounded by redwoods. Getting to it requires a moderate hike, partially along railroad tracks, that I’d estimate to be a little under a mile. Hitting that spot was on my bucket list and well worth it. Redwood trees are one of the things I miss most when away from Northern California. They are gigantic and beautiful. Something out of a fairytale full of mythical creatures. As such, so was the watering hole. Add to that getting a beautiful hike in, something I have been trying to do on a regular basis, I was a very happy gal. Especially with how much one of my biggest struggles with this lifestyle has been keeping up with my Amazon training in regard to fitness and nutrition.

It’s a pleasant shock to realize just how much even being home now feels like travel. Staying fluid, outside of my head and focused on experiencing as much of what the Bay Area and San Diego have to offer as possible, I now do it differently. Pride in San Francisco was another way I remembered happiness during a difficult time. Such an amazing celebration of life and love, how could it not lift my spirits? Experiencing my last few days of San Francisco, the city I consider my second home, and identifying as Pansexual myself, it meant a lot beyond just a general party. Especially after missing the Burning Man Precompression event in Oakland due to dealing with my uncle who is working as the Real Estate agent to get my parent’s house sold.

Life compartmentalizes in that it gives us good, bad and everything in between at the same time. Learning how to do the same with emotion and response as well as how to fit them together in return is one of the puzzles of life that I’m learning how to handle.

I have my moments of being sad, angry and everything else that comes with loss. Usually because of triggers such as hanging with a mutual friend of someone lost. Also things that remind me of her/him such as my pup’s beautiful personalized pet garden memorial that a friend made out of concrete and sand, a Garth Brooks and Tricia Yearwood concert I took my bud and girlfriend to (best show ever) or one of their names constantly popping up as a main contact in social media and my phone. Not to mention all of the times I default to thoughts about them being the first person I would invite or go to for something.

I think that’s good, though. My history of avoiding big losses and trauma has just fed that pain to grow as a spiritual cancer. As much as I’ve tried, there has been no ignoring away the hard stuff. I’m proud of myself for learning when is the right time to compartmentalize and when to process. It’s certainly a first.

Monster May – Four Deaths in Three Weeks

Four people died within the first three weeks that I was back in the US.

I hate May.

Before all this death it was an expensive and chaotic month but for reasons that I loved. Tons of celebrations with my pup’s birthday on the 1st, sister’s on the 4th, mom’s on the 5th, dad’s on the 11th, brother’s finance and two other buddies. Last but not least, who can forget Cinco de Drinko?

It was a constant and happy party. That was until May 5th 2015, my mom’s birthday, when my dog was hit and killed by a car. I still replay every moment of thinking it strange to have gotten a call from a 408 number when in a meeting in my SF office and then begging the woman on the other line, the one who had hit my girl, to not leave her body until I could find someone to pick her up.

I had told my family not to let Layla out without watching her because she was little, would eventually get out of the old beat up fence and get hit by a car. My sister swore she didn’t do it but I don’t know how it would have been possible otherwise. My parents were in Tahoe but our mom had long-since set the precedence of not listening to me. Her excuse later was that Layla was part of the family and I was never there so she had the right to ignore me. From what I remember they never took responsibility nor apologized. There are three sides to every story and I still hope I missed something that will allow me to let it go.

Layla was my everything and it was the worst loss of my life. Even now. Even with the four people I lost in that horrible month of 2017. It was also when I made the decision to go for the lifestyle I am currently living. Losing my fur-baby, I didn’t have any fear left in me. I didn’t care what happened to me.

The current lives lost all impacted me in different ways.
umber of years, and we hadn’t been lovers long, but we had a permanent bond that deserves it’s own blog post. It had an affect on me that messed with my head. Not emotional so much as losing a connection to my body.

The most traumatic loss was a buddy who I had known as not only a close friend for a time, but also a sweet and loving man who had been one of two who saved me when having a grand mal seizure. He also had sat by my hospital bed through that night. Months later, I noticed he acted a little off when I saw him and guessed it was from a bit of trauma from my seizure. Also possibly due to a tiff with my friend, his girlfriend. I had no idea what it really was until he went on a rampage, shooting people and killing one, while waiting for the police to get to him for a police-assisted suicide. He kept my friend on the phone blaming her at the end of it.

Next was an old Vietnam vet bud in Thailand. Just a couple weeks before we had been sitting around for hours with a couple more friends telling stories over drinks. ‘Ol dog had even managed to steal a kiss. Losing him was sad but also beautiful and happy in that he was no longer in the pain of old age. My only regret was planning to record his stories to write the next time I am there instead of doing it then.

At the same time my social media feed was flooding with pictures of his funeral, I got a call that my closest girlfriend in the Bay Area had jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. To make matters worse, her best friend, a self-absorbed and uber dramatic older woman, thought it a good idea to run her mouth to others who continued passing it on to a large community of whom many (not all, some are rad) love to gossip and find what ever outlet they can to get attention. The multiple messages I was getting from these people within hours of finding out destroyed me. Losing her was the most heartbreaking of all those lost. While I don’t blame myself, I was also the one who understood and saw the signs. My family’s history with mental health made it pretty easy. I didn’t see that she was so far along but I knew those demons well and that they were after her.

Saved by those there for me once finding out but still destroyed a bit by the one who ghosted after telling her in person. Then there’s the people who would never have been expected to be there and were. Thank God for my sister being there in person at the beginning.

I understand that for others, it’s much easier to go into denial and run than face someone who is going through so much all at once. It can also be a trigger and bring out strange reactions from people fighting to be supportive. Relating a little too strongly, my sister (who has been awesome) told me about something horrible that happened to another loved one as well as telling me multiple times about how one of her worse fears has always been that I will commit suicide.

At the beginning of it all I was in shock. I couldn’t handle thinking about it and was threatened by anyone who tried to make me. It wasn’t real yet. Then I got angry. Angry at the world and more than anything, at mental illness. Somewhere stuck between enraged bitch-mode and denial, there were moments like when I almost collapsed on the floor of a grocery store. Unable to cheat the grieving process, I am now just so sad that I can barely function. I pray it will move on quickly and that I can skip the depression stage, but I can already feel it creeping in.

For now, I’ve spent a little time with another friends dealing with the same loss of the most recent and will soon be going to group grief counseling with another friend mentioned earlier. I’m also looking into volunteering in the mental health field and am desperately looking for some pups to snuggle. Two of the only things that have been able to save me in my darkest times in the past.

We’ll see what’s tomorrow. For now, one foot in front of the other.

Leaving London and an Intro to Iceland

Leaving such awesome friends in London was sad. Especially after an endearing dinner for Emma’s dad’s birthday at a tapas restaurant with her amazing family, which consisted of a shy and quiet younger brother, Scottish father’s thickly-accented teasing, her friendly Welsh mother and honorary aunt (mum’s long-time bestie) who I was tempted to plan a girl’s weekend with by the end of the night.

Heading to the train about 11:30 PM for an hour and a half ride to the airport, I was off again. Pouting and exhausted but my heart was full.

Getting there too early, I had something like five hours to kill overnight before boarding. What was surprising was how easy it ended up being to separate my huge 75 lb suitcase into two items by using a net laundry bag. Looking back, it’s incredible how those miserable nights spent in airports all over the world have come to mean so much.

Finally catching and crashing out on my first flight, I touched down in Iceland and instantly started trying to work out a few hours at the Blue Lagoons along with asking about any restaurants close enough to hit while being able to get back during my nine hour layover. I even turned to Tinder for a potential last minute tour guide and date. No luck with any, thought the challenges of not having a bank card were more than I had the energy for anyway.

Managing to get outside to at least leave the airport, it was a surreal feeling to be out in the bite of cold as it started to snow after, just a couple weeks ago, I had been in the tropical heat of Thailand. An odd experience that’s hard to explain to those who have not done it.

Reminding myself, once again, to work on booking layovers for at least a 24 hour windows in order to explore wherever I land, I did my best to stop from beating myself up with reminders that I was making progress. I also did my best to write from a makeshift office of my tablet on top of my suitcase while hanging as close to locals as possible. Once finally boarding Iceland’s airline, WOW, it was frustrating that they don’t offer entertainment or complimentary food/drink, and that the man in front of me could use a shower, but the ample leg room was Valhalla for an Amazon such as myself.

Noting to do more research for things like amenities on airlines, it didn’t end up being an issue on that particular flight, as I ended up with my own row and drugged myself into being able to sleep eight hours of the nine and a half hours. At least as well as one can who is in the constant pain of being jabbed with seatbelts and other painful parts of airline chairs that were obviously not meant to be laid across.

Landing in San Francisco, I was finally back in California. Zooming past the torturously long lines in order to use my Global Entry Card, I don’t know if I have ever felt so thankful or proud of myself for such a good investment. If I had the energy, I probably would have started cheering and being an asshole by showing off to everyone who didn’t have one.

Originally planning on taking the train to my family’s house, my mom ended up coming to get me after her 12 hour shift, the third to last before retiring as a nurse at Stanford Hospital. Another thing I was more than a little thankful for. If you ever want to do a solid for a traveler, do this. Even better, bring something delicious, comforting/refreshing (outside of food) and a dog to cuddle on the way home.

Catching up during the 45 minute drive, I had very little idea what I was in for. I knew the rest of the family was finally moving to San Diego to join me and my brother’s family in our homebase of the last 17 years but I had no idea there would already be a For Sale sign up and the house would be half moved out.

Dealing with the aftermath of this trip, already having begun planning the next and pulling into the driveway for what was about to be family chaos for the next few weeks that was to bring us closer together than ever before, I was onto my next adventure before I had stepped foot out of the car.

Sexual Sabbatical

In an age of instant gratification, you probably have no interest in reading through an entire blog post before getting to the the juicy stuff about the Sexual Sabbatical. In honor of that, I’ll give you a heads up that you may want to continue by reading the last couple paragraphs before starting up here.

I also want to assure you loyal FRFers that we’ll continue with my time in London in the next post. For now, and thanks to an inspirational reminder from one of my own personal Wonder Women, I feel it important to look at the more serious and soulful side of what fueled my last post, A Gas of a Good Time.

Like so many, I was raised with some pretty rough guilt and shame about my body and sexuality through the beliefs of the Catholic church, being plus size since puberty and from sexual assault. All things that are so devastatingly common that, even if you are one of the lucky ones who haven’t experienced it personally, you are likely surrounded by people who have.

Before fully backtracking into the last post, let’s keep it present when pointing out that the most primal reason why a sexual sabbatical was thanks to maternal genetics inclined to a high sex drive (I get it from my mama). Many aspects sound great in such a sexualized society but the reality is that it causes physical discomfort, creates issues in relationships, challenges with self-esteem and other such problems. Turning to the deflection tactic of humor, I you may have noticed me tease on occasion with the saying “crazy in the head, crazy in bed”.

Continuing in ways that affect both posts as well as who I am in general, another area that has been challenging since close to the beginning is religion. Confusing without direction to help make sense of it all, I finally found some help when reading Angels & Demons by Dan Brown somewhere in my twenties. I will always be thankful for that book first opening my mind to the idea that I need to research and think for myself about how organized religion is often used as a tool of control, hypocrisy, sexism, money and power. That isn’t to say that I don’t believe in a higher power, or that there aren’t amazing people and churches, but over all my experience was traumatizing and killed most of my belief in organized religion. I don’t feel comfortable going anywhere near it.

In my late twenties, the final crucial factor that helped me break through feelings of shame in these two areas was when I trained my body into a more traditional physical form of what is considered “hot”. Dealing with a dangerous PTSD marine brother, health problems and the beginning of the crash of my first career in subprime mortgage (mixed feelings there), I had coped with it all through extreme focus on fitness and nutrition. Centering aim on my Amazon warrior side, something that came naturally to me, had helped to empower through strength and control. Something that consisted of three to four days a week of over two hours in the gym followed by surfing. Also eating clean and going as far as to limit socializing if it caused damage to that training.

Looks were farther down the line in terms of importance as to why I was doing it. If anything I was aiming on becoming less exposed to the horrible treatment of weight prejudice. I also just wanted it to be easier to keep up with my athletic friends.

What especially changed my reality with body image and weight prejudice was experiencing how I was just treated like shit in a different way once having lost the weight and muscling up. A noticeable number of women were nastier to me (I’m a girl’s girl, so this especially sucked) and many men and women cared a lot less about anything I was beyond looks. Not by everyone of course, but by enough to remind me that all good things have their own set of flaws. Since then I’ve become pretty good at accepting, loving and being forgiving with myself. As long as I’m doing the best I can and never give up, I’m good.

“If the goal you’ve set for yourself has a 100 percent chance of success, then frankly you aren’t aiming high enough.” – Benny Lewis

The moment that brought it all together along with what inspired me to come out as an actual advocate was when it became clear that I was actually helping people. To see beauty, healing, strength and love in the eyes of another and knowing I was a part of that…wow…how could I ever turn back? Being that person to others has given me more confidence than anything else could touch.

With my last post, while hilarious, I wasn’t completely comfortable putting it out. Sometimes that’s when it matters most.

All of these details give reason to so much of what I do, who I am and what you read. Included is the sexual sabbatical mentioned below that I am just now coming out of.

Why I did the sabbatical was pretty simple. My sexuality was adding too much complication to an already difficult transition into this new and untraditional lifestyle of writing and traveling as a digital nomad. It also set me up to hurt one lover after the other. While always having had been clear about my leaving within a few months to continue life as a bohemian nomad, and having always been reassured that it was OK, it never was. That was the bottom line. Hurting people is the opposite of who I fight to be and I just couldn’t handle the added complications or emotions of it all.

That sexual cleanse was great for mind, body and soul. Especially as someone whose identity is so strongly tied into it. While a little hesitant to jump back in, it’s time to. My last post celebrated how I just started the transition back in with a wonderful man in an experience that will always fill my heart.

There you go. Now that we’re caught up on the emotional and spiritual journey, back to the literal.

A Gas of a Good Time – My Last Night in London

We’d just started dancing the horizontal hula when he froze on top of me, positioned on all four and let one rip.

“What!” He proclaimed joking around before watching me transition from shock to horror to anger. “I thought you were supposed to be a naturalist,” he said making things worse not only with his question but also because he was laughing.

“BERNARD,” I screamed up the stairs with G still on top of me. “EMMA! GET DOWN HERE!!”

Let me break here to say that I’d normally never share this kind of story (as a writer that may not true) but this particular night was way too priceless to keep to myself.

Before we continue from the middle, let’s take a step back and take it from the top…

Within my first couple days in London I had been giving Bernard a hard time to fix me up with a friend. I had been on sexual sabbatical due to previous lovers making a pattern of becoming upset after originally being OK with my new lifestyle as a traveling writer who was gone for a few months at a time. Needless to say, that was making my life way too complicated and made me feel like shit, so I had just shut it all down. Well, Mama Bear was coming out of hibernation and I was starving.

When asking Bernard and Emma if they had any friends to hook me up with (I’d been hitting Em up since I was in Thailand), I was kidding but not kidding and was thrilled when B had automatically thought of G.

At the time, I was about halfway through my stay in London. Bernard and Emma both forgot but I was determined. Taking action with a thirsty third, and what was to be final, reminder two nights before flying back to the states, G finally got the invite for a dinner party the next night. Emma was going to make Bobotie, the traditional dish of South Africa, where Bernard is originally from.

G showed up completely unaware, innocent of the shenanigans planned and showing appreciation through constant excited words of gratitude in a display that showed what a great guy he was. Half amused and half feeling bad considering our devious plan (which, of course, would really only happen if progressing organically on both sides), I was soon distracted with the thought of how I didn’t know when the moment had been that I had gone from the innocent one to being on the other side. It happened later than most but somewhere along the line, it had happened.

A big smile and being super sweet along with just the right amount of endearing awkwardness that hinted at a touch of shyness happened to be qualities he possessed that also happen to be my weak spots. I still wonder if it was a fluke that Bernard thought of someone with such traits or if he is just that good at reading people.

First saying hello with a hug, G blushed as I made a joke about jumping right into making out when moving our heads the wrong way had almost caused a kiss. A cute and entertaining moment but boy did I feel forward. He did tell me a couple of weeks later, however, (we’re now friends) that he fancied me quick, so in hindsight, I wasn’t too terrible.

Still unaware as he stuffed himself with Emma’s yummy cooking, we talked about dessert, but decided instead to go out for a smoke. A dead giveaway that I’d had drinks. Once outside, G mentioned he was cold while shivering. While also feeling the bit of the chilly temperature, I wondered if it was legit or an attempt to get closer. Either way, I was quick to tell him to come in for a hug in which, being a little shorter than me (I’m 5’10”), he was more than happy to be swallowed by my ample bosom just made for the task of warm snuggles.

Eventually moving to the couch in the sitting room, one thing lead to another until the fated incident, but not before we all cracked up in light-hearted fun from Bernard’s prank of having successfully snuck up behind G once we had progressed into an old fashioned makeout session in order to poke him in the bum hole. Typical bromance humor and definitely funny to watch G jump in surprise. Em having picked up on G being a bit more conservative than the rest of us, she then pulled B upstairs to their room in order to give us privacy. Hence why I had to yell to get them back down.

Having a bit of an idea in the back of my head that he was really embarrassed by the notorious incident and trying to play it off (which he later admitted to), I was too pissed to care in the moment and too into the idea of turning something that would normally bother me into something hilarious. Not just for myself, but I wanted both of us to feel more comfortable.

Once they were back in the room and adding to my rant about what happened by pointing out that G had even still been wearing his socks, Emma then pointed out through shouts of laughter that they were both in their socks and boxers. With the fellas giving each other fist-bumps while almost crying in laughter, Emma and I tried to argue through our own giggles about how wrong it was. At some point in the disarray, Bernard started exclaiming over and over about a situation in which he had his own trouser-cough incident in a much more awkward sexual experience. He even had a dance to go with the story. The whole thing was insane and I hadn’t laughed so hard in years.

Bernard stepping it up to another level, pulled out a laptop to Skype one of their buddies for a women vs men argument about whether G should have gone to the bathroom vs the incident being natural and funny as it was. The fellas were still in nothing but their socks and underwear, G being a good sport, and I was in nothing but a sarong. I can only imagine what their bud thought as he played the Judge of Poots with women vs men shouting our side of the debate through a pandemonium that only increased with roars of victory and refusal to accept defeat as our virtual referee sided with us ladies.

With the scene soon to calm down after that, Emma and Bernard returned upstairs and I started thinking about what a great sport G had been along with how I wanted to make sure he was comfortable with the whole thing. As mentioned, I already had a feeling that he hadn’t been quite as comfortable being so exposed and that he hadn’t been feeling well. Something I could very much relate to from traveling. Such a sweetie with his good spirit, we switched gears into a much more tender and compassionate stage for a couple hours until passing out so he could get a wee bit of rest before heading back to work.

I have never had an experience like that, nor would I have ever imagined myself to be OK with it. I’m not one who thinks the ‘ol anal exhale is funny, or any other kind of bathroom humor for that matter. What I am into, and believe to be one of the most important parts of life, is celebration. With the best moments often coming in the most unexpected situations, places and people, our night together had become just that. Having recently lost four people over the course of one month, three of which being due to traumatic circumstances, that memory is one of the only things that has been aboe to make me smile. Who would have ever thought.