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I don’t know how it happened but let me tell you, that was the most festive Christmas season I’ve ever had. Maybe it was karma making up for my being alone with hives most of the year before or that I was likely to be overseas the next year. Who knows. Whatever it was, it was rockin!
I’d have to say that it started when I picked Danno up from the airport for a wild weekend event called Naughty or Nice. It was put on by my old friend Meghan for a national social group I had been a part of years before. Dan and I had bonded at the end of it the year before (I was there to support a friend) when he had walked up with messy hair, playing a tiny guitar and rocking painted toenails with star designs. He was my people, despite his being a Baby Boomer with a Minnesota accent.
We had been in touch since then and he had debated coming out for Burning Man. I hadn’t thought much about our connection being romantic but it became pretty clear that he had when I picked him and a few others up at the airport. Driving them to the Paradise Point Resort and Spa in Mission Bay, I didn’t really know what to do. I didn’t have any interest in being a part of the event and didn’t want to overstep when it came to being around it. Still, he knew the rules and was a participant so when he asked me to hang in his room I hesitantly said yes. Trusting he knew the rules and boundaries, I half-thought I could avoid drama in a group so full of it that most of the participants eventually stopped participating. Nope, nope, nope. The first issue, and the one I wasn’t likely to forget, was that he kept on inviting me over and then lecturing about my needing to be careful about starting drama from being there. No matter how much I told him that it had been years since I was a part of that scene, also that I could care less about a bunch of gossips not in my life, he argued against me on every account. I resented the hell out of it. Especially once there was real drama when a woman named Dee who was collectively disliked and considered the the queen of drama in a group already infamous for it, started running her mouth. Also because I was upset with Meghan for being one of the many who was MIA for the ITP thing when I would have thought to be one of the first ones to show me some love and support in at least a message.
There was some fun moments but over all but our time together would end with some major mixed feelings on my behalf. It was worth tolerating in the moment to hang with such a fun-loving man who ran circles around everyone. It was also nice to experience being taken care of as a woman by a strong man. I wasn’t used to it. He was the stand-in boyfriend who was actually really “there” without freaking me out. I imagined that to be due to age, being from the Midwest and having been married for a very long time. There were even a few times he came out into my personal world. The first being when a friend who went by the burner name of Angelique came down from the OC and the three of us went to Polite Provisions. Such a cool spot that I had been wanting to go to, it was full of class and old-world charm as well as being decorated as if Christmas had vomited everywhere.
I was able to squeeze in an impromptu birthday cerebration for Jewels of lunch at Hugo’s Cocina and pedis in between my time going back and forth between the resort and working. It was nice as, while we kept in tough virtually, we hardly ever actually hung out. Time well spent though everything had a bit of stress to it given that I was trying to squeeze it all in at once. Later that evening I even cut out of work early to go to the Sea World trainer Christmas party with Nik that we had been going to for years. Taking consolation, at least, in it being at Sunshine Co in OB for once, the thrill was gone. I barely knew any of the trainers anymore.
Our local Christmas parade the next night was a lot more fun. It was one of the biggest social gatherings in my little beach town for the year and I was proud to having given a smashing success of a pre-party. Danno played the boyfriend for a bit while a well-known local friend who stood about 6’9″ also there seemed to think that we were an item. Making me feel like I was in an impromptu polyamorous situation, I was relieved when Dan took off for one of the events he had committed to and the rest of us headed to the parade. Stopping at a pottery shop to join a local party the owner put on every year, it was then back to my place for an after-party. It felt good to give something back to Team OB. Really good. I had always felt tolerated by a lot of them at best. Them coming to my place made me feel better about how they saw me.
There were plenty more holiday shenanigans to be had. Danno didn’t leave for a two more days which meant that I made it over to the resort a couple more times after the event had ended for some fun in the sun. Saying goodbye to him, I was onto the next event on the evening of the 9th when I made it to a rowdy Hash House Harrier fundraising event at the Kensington Club where a very sexy Mia was auctioned off to raise money for a good cause. Thursday the 12th was a relaxing lunch out with the folks and the 13th was out with the owner of the car I was long-term renting, Tavian, for our “company Christmas party”. Working that night in the glasses I got to help with night vision, a fail given that I didn’t need glasses, things were going pretty damn good. I even put in a little drive north to grab lunch with a cool dude, Ian, who I had camped with at The Swan my first burn. He was driving at least double the time to meet up with me. Opting for my boobies instead of a handshake when we finally got to the restaurant, he gave me a laugh and a cheap thrill before he heading back to L.A. an hour later for a Christmas party. I went right back to work myself, desperately trying to pay for all the Christmas presents I was buying and couldn’t afford. It was in the American Christmas handbook after all.
I could have killed Tom Hanks a couple days later when going to see A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood by myself and I ended up crying like a baby. I knew the movie would be set up for that, dammit, and yet still fell for it. That night, I made my favorite gesture of holiday spirit for the the year when heading up Newport Ave to some houses that put on a show of Christmas lights playing to music synced to a local radio station. Taking advantage of $10 pizzas offered right before closing at Surf Rider Pizza, I jammed the half mile to pick up some to offer for those watching the show. A failed effort given that the show shut down for the night soon after my return. Even better though, I headed over to the homeless crowd who always gathered at the end of Newport (where the ocean is) and gifted the pizza to them. The whole next day was sucked up by taking my papa to Barona Casino. Our special thing and it was the last day of their Wednesday lobster buffet. I don’t know why he was so fond of it given that neither of us were big lobster fans.
Putting my Christmas party to shame, Clif and Matt threw their own on a yacht in Coronado. I thought I had heard that they won a few hours at a fundraiser or something like that but it was still a wee bit expensive. Worth it though, my favorite part when a group of the girls dressed in snow bunny suits (you know they were sweating) had a Zoolander style photo shoot. Funny in contrast was when we went out to a dive bar called The Little Club on that stuffy island where I ended up carrying Nik out after Kurt had shoved me out of the way for nagging him when he had been ignoring a sick Kati’s requests of telling him that it was time to go. When you gotta go, you gotta go.
The presents kept growing and growing under my tree. (Insert pervy joke here.) I had never made that happen before. A little present for me was when a couple friends from The Swan of the 2019 burn, Disco Inferno (AKA: Brett and Lori), came to visit for a couple days. It being my duty as a San Diegian to take them to South Beach for beers and what were arguably the best mahi tacos in town, I squeezed in a few hours of work and we had a bonfire. We headed to their other local burner friend’s house the next night, a family with a refreshingly out of the ordinary social structure, before the whole lot of us went out to a cool speakeasy in UTC (upper-scale mall) called Raised by Wolves.
It was the last of the holiday shenanigans before finally being time for Christmas Eve and Christmas. Spending the first of the two at the Brick House, partly to save Nik from her cool but controlling sis-in-law, I hadn’t even been invited to the Satterwhite Sanctuary, so it had been an easy choice. Christmas itself was kind of boring. I was happy that Grandma was there, though half frozen in discomfort as I always at their property and bummed about the more traditional menu of the day after having heard about the one from the day before. I consoled myself, though, by making the string bean casserole that was my favorite and the pineapple cake that our Grandma Jean always used to make before she passed away. It was touching to see how much it meant to Mama. It also felt great to see how excited everyone was about the presents I had gotten them and to hear their comments about how I nailed it for the year. The final win during a holiday season of wins as it winded to a close.
Exhale man, finally getting cleared by Dr. Vlad on the 26th to be OK enough to head back to Nor Cal, I celebrated by joining Mia that night for drinks at Kilowatt Brewing before hitting the road the next day after the second time I was cleared, though that time being for the snowy mountain overpass opening back up. It was time to celebrate NYE with Brigit and Aaron. Well, half celebrate.
Getting there at 10 PM on the 27th, there was already a peppermint martini waiting for me along with the glow of a beautifully decorated Christmas tree that couldn’t have felt more like a postcard if it tried. I had a couple days after that to get settled back in. Driving all over the Bay for work, eating at local spots in Felton, hiking and writing. NYE was my biggest holiday fail, though. Well, not exactly a fail. I got to spend it with B&A who I hadn’t got to spend any of the holiday season with up to that point. Adorned in a blue sari, I was excited to be going to the party of some burners in Santa Cruz with them. Unfortunately a little too excited (and tired) as I had already set myself up when overcompensating with my pre-game. I did still manage to get some dancing in and a few more cocktails once there, thouhh, thinking that I’d at least be able to enjoy the countdown even if it wasn’t destined to be an all-nighter. That was until I was thrown a major curveball when B announced that we were leaving right before midnight. Aaron’s head had been bobbing as he sat on a chair out of the way due to one of his nights of not sleeping and Brigit, wanting to avoid the drivers after midnight, didn’t seem to feel the need to wait until either right after the countdown or early enough for me to be able to make it to Monty’s to be a part of it there.
Not able to afford an insanely expensive NYE Lyft, I flashed back to a night in my early teens with Nicki when countdown back then had ended up the same way. I wasn’t only pissed when the clock struck midnight in the car but also felt a little betrayed. I could have stayed home and celebrated with friends. Though that very easily could have ended with me alone at the bars or somehow roped into a house in the suburbs with a bunch of kids running around. Having them drop me at Monty’s in a last-ditch effort for some NYE magic anyway, it quickly became apparent that that ship had sailed. It was one great chuckle, though, when thinking of how confused anyone would have been who saw a snockered almost 6 foot tall woman in a sari walking up a wooded mountain road on my way home. They wouldn’t be getting that memory out of their head any time soon.