My friends and I planned to attend Burning Man to experience a suspension of time from our daily lives filled with elder care. Life sometimes has a way of pointing out the importance of living in the moment and suspending time in 2013.
Just as I was leaving home, my Mom’s retirement home called to say she was displaying stroke-like symptoms.
While I sat in a hospital emergency room, I imagined Burners biking from camp to camp or eating at one of the La Playa’s 130 health service-inspected restaurants set up for a week.
For those of you not familiar with this yearly phenomena, read this brief essay.
My fellow waiting room occupants could have been Burners. One wearing a tattered wife beater and no shoes patiently massaged his dislocated knee with mechanic oil encrusted fingers. I suspect he would have gotten more immediate attention in the desert from the medical volunteers. In fact, I learned when Mom and I finally got into ER, that one of the missing doctors was at Burning Man.
Watching a 350 lb. sciatica victim writhing on the waiting room floor and another vomiting in a wastebasket provided a suspension of time not away from elder care but smack in the middle of it.
Once Mom was released, symptom-free, I started the first four-hour leg of my solitary trip over the mountains. I still was dillusional about attending.
I imagined Burners dancing on temporary platforms, artists displaying their work and myself viewing a tribute to Missouri including a cornfield in juxtaposition to a replica of a modern St. Louis building. It was one of several offerings sitting on granite altars, ready to burn.
I pretended I was viewing the rising blue moon over la playa. In fact I was watching it rise over the sunset pink-veiled Sierras. I realized that sight was far superior to any man-made creation. I got an inkling (as well as a phone call) that the only Burners I would share this blue moon view with were the early outers who were drifting by me the other freeway direction in telltale gray cars.
My traveling mates father had taken a turn for the worse. Major decisions needed to be made now. I chose to cling to the last half-hour of my feeling my fantasy fade away with the sun. The sight of their fully-stocked trailer darkened in the driveway, extinguished that fantasy for this year.
The three of us spend a magical night under the Blue Moon as we would have on la playa reminiscing about the man they loved, respected, anguished over of late and would lose in less than 15 hours.
I reflected on my 96-year-old mother, still hanging in there but struggling. This year will be the year of the fading parents. Who knows what next year will be, except I hope to be one of the 50,000 residents living in that moment in a temporary, dust-covered city in Nevada. Will I see you there?