On the way home from Burning Man, my friend and I looked like clowns who had been tied to the back of a car and dragged down a dirt road. Our hair was matted like the fur of a neglected, shaggy dog. We hadn’t showered in about a week. Since we left in such haste in fear of more dust storms in the dry lakebed where the event was held, we didn’t bother to change clothes before leaving. We threw our dusty belongings in the back of a rented SUV and skedaddled. My friend was wearing a pink midriff shirt with bell-bottom pants of the most electric neon yellow color you have ever seen. I was wearing purple tights and a patch of purple fur that I tried to pass off as a skirt. I was wearing a tight shirt that was open down the front and held together with purple ribbons. We stopped in Reno and I attempted to appear more modest by throwing a shaggy green coat over the whole outfit. It didn’t work.
We left at night and made an attempt to get a hotel room in downtown Reno. We talked excitedly about our first shower. We dreamt of a good spa and real restaurant food. We had been living on baby wipes and beef jerky and sought relief. The hotel was completely booked and the man at the registration desk told us that every hotel room in Reno was unavailable. “He is so full of sh**”, we told each other as we walked back to the car.
The guy wasn’t kidding. We called every place with determination and hope but were entirely unsuccessful. Every motel’s neon sign said “No Vacancy.” It should have read “foiled again.”
We kept driving. There are often jackrabbits on the road near Burning Man and they amount to nothing more than fuzzy speed bumps. We ended up having to sleep in the parking lot of a gas station somewhere outside of Reno. Not the Ritz-Carlton, but at least not in a dust storm. Our manicures and sushi are a world away in Vegas. At this point, we both even look forward to going back to work.
A man knocked on my window and woke me up to talk to me. “Did you guys come from Burning Man?” he asked cheerfully. I am half asleep so the audacity of his intrusion doesn’t even sink in. Our car is covered in white lake dust and we look like homeless carnival freaks. Of course we came from Burning Man. I nod. “Yeah” I respond and smile and go back to sleep.
Though the trip home was less than luxurious, the experience as a whole was worth it. We were completely disconnected from the outside world. There was no Internet signal or telephone reception way out there. I didn’t even have the time. Instead, I had a clunky plastic kid’s watch that flashed little Christmas lights. When someone asked the time, it was only ever party time according to my watch.
Our strap-ons were an outrageous success and we are now both in photographs around the world. We must have posed for literally hundreds of photographs. We participated in a topless bike ride parade and were photographed another several hundred times. My career in politics is ruined.
Some of our other stripper friends were there and we had dinner with them on most nights. They had an arsenal of hallucinogenic drugs in this tent that was about as sturdy as a bomb shelter. Through communal food and drink sharing, I had something tainted and the hallucinations started to kick in sometime in the wee hours. I rode a bike down the make shift roads and appreciated the great variety of art illuminated by the strobe lights. My shadow flashed along the road and I felt like I was in an old black and white movie.
I fell asleep with many people through the course of the trip. We slept like snakes in a pit on a giant trampoline, intertwined and snuggling, keeping warm in the cold high desert. We could not determine who owned the trampoline.
Back in reality, I wake up alone and still recovering from breathing in so much dust. I got a bad nosebleed and woke up in a small puddle of blood on my good sheets. It coagulated a bit and came out like a dark red gummy worm. I am happy to be home anyway, I suppose.