backhand stories the creative writing blog

Have you been to Burning Man?

My fears: the scents favored by those who dance for twelve hours straight on the playa to stay warm while listening to the freeze Nightdesert. I don’t shy from Daydesert’s heat, the stinging rash that makes an umbrella penicillin, nor the glowing eyes of men on tricks I could not fathom, but the wafting tinge of mélange should send me to places where I could never open my eyes.

I can’t really describe it…it’s like taking ecstasy.

I’ve never taken ecstasy, powders that you melt or sniff were my preference in the days when I gave my young mouth to words of stillborn suburban boredom. I knew you meant a feeling that is not of body, not a simple sensation, but a realism that clouds as it makes froth of tactile truths.

This is how the esplanade is laid-out

Caeser’s head with god in center. I picture it, a panorama of worshipers, all in semi-circle of the excise. The map speaks almost as much as you do: telling the story, the beliefs, a deconstructionist monster in the middle of all the pets it could ever want. Daydesert and Nightdesert are only the bearers of torch and orb.

When they burn him, it’s crazy; everyone’s dancing and screaming

There, with Nightdesert, the glow and flames, and the sound of dancing, laughing, cheering as he burns, as they burn, as light streams out in ribbons like a cuttlefish’s path. Daydesert returns for a moment, only to drown again in his sibling. She says only a few words of it, but the cat jumps between us, my gaze broken. I make a joke, a stupid joke, and wait for word of the Temple.

You’d think 29,000 people would be loud, but there’s silence as they burn the Temple

I picture her rolls of stillness, crying, thought, the wishes, the thanks, the bitter nuances enveloped in the Nightdesert’s second light.

You can’t throw anything away

And why would you? Every bottle: a celebration. Every protein bar: a byte of Daydesert memory, a megahertz to speed Nightdesert. And I see myself, Hawaiian shirt and black pants, serape tent-shaded, eating Reese’s and tossing a wrapper to the ground, caring not for man or meaning, and wonder if I could avoid it.

I really think you’d enjoy it

And I know I would. I know it would change me. I know it would affect a part of me I tried to kill with the irony-bathed irony of a Gen X slacker. I want to feel it. I want to know how Nightdesert feels against the arms of the guy who refuses to embrace it.

You know what I mean?

I came to the conversation, followed you down Second street, tried charming/making an ass of myself, hoping to ask you out for a drink, but I got more: a factsheet on experiences I can’t know. Burning Man, the Playa, Black Rock City, Nevada. The things you took with you, now boxed: a museum I appreciated more than the marble tiled halls I’ve walked at the Smithsonian. This curator felt the artifacts, and smiled every time she touched a piece.

I’m obsessed

I have thought in bed, sleep never easy for me, of how the twins of Earth would greet me: Nightdesert’s weight soothing that which Daydesert has rubbed raw; Daydesert relieving me of Nightdesert’s too kind burden. I fear they both would have nothing too kind for me, and even more that they would kiss me on both cheeks, each a new brother who I will always cherish.