It was so incredible and beautiful. K&A inspired A and I to take on life barefooted – really feeling Earth under our feet as went, taking our time, living fully in the moment.
We jumped off of tall rocks into deep, crystal clear pools of water and hiked in the beautiful forest, saying hello to the redwoods.
Life was so marvelous.I left the river knowing I would come back while also acknowledging how precious, treasured, and special these memories would forever be in my mind.
Off I went to see D in South Lake Tahoe. I spent a couple sweet days with him, seeing what his home life was like, meeting all his people. It was fun.
A lovely thing happened while I was there, K&A came, as well as Santi! The 3 of them ended up camping at D’s house too – it felt like a family reunion, as I held deep love and gratitude for each of them.
As contradictory as this sounds, those 4 days felt so fast, but also so incredibly slow. It was hot (100 degrees F +) and there was no shade. The wind didn’t offer much relief as it brought with it huge dust storms that we literally had to take shelter from.
Like, actual dustnados and dust twisters that reached hundreds of feet into the area – it was crazy intense. It seemed the longer we were out there, the worse the dust storms got.
Night time offered a stark contrast from the day, with the dust storms easing up and the temperature changing from drastically hot to drastically cold. However, the night sky brought with it some of the best star viewing I’ve ever experienced stateside.
I’ll offer a few of my favorite memories from that festival and try to keep it short.Key word in that sentence being “try”.
Shaking my egg rattle at the stage! Sounds simple and it was but it brought a certain charisma - people loved it and would cheer me on, smiling extra bright. I cultivated a silly and fun atmosphere with that egg and people began recognizing me from it - even just from the sound. I also at times felt like a forest sprite (in the desert), sneak-dancing behind people, shaking the egg in one ear as I passed the other direction. When they caught on, they always laughed at the sight of me - hunched over, walk-dancing away, grinning whilst wiggling my fingers in the air at them (all 10 of my fingers individually, being as weird as possible). So fun. It was a full weekend occurrence.
The couches were a serious energy vortex. I spent many hours on those couches. They were located around/under the playground (a metal dome created for shade) and were super comfy.They were likewise pretty secluded, out in the playa, away from camp, but within closer proximity to the stage so you could see/hear what was going on there but not be directly in the chaos.
The conversations were always spot on and hilarious at the couches. I met a good friend named I at these couches.
Anyways, after shaking my egg at the stage and light housing myself on the way to the couches, I found myself hanging out with a funny group of people. All but one guy ended up leaving and the two of us shared contagious laughter for quite a while, just laughing at everything under the moon (it was dark out and the stars were brilliant).
I saw a guy roaming around in the playa, away from everything, alone, with no lights. I light-housed him over, shouting "come join the couch party!" - he came and was so grateful, lamenting he was tripping super hard and was so glad to be grounded somewhere with friendly people.
We were glad for his presence too – he was hilarious. He told us about this adventure he had on his dirt bike earlier that day, driving someone out into the desert. Saying he had seen an ant way out in the middle of the playa and wondered what the ant was doing out there, what the ant was eating. He said he was tempted to give him a glob of spit just to help him survive a few more generations.
Maybe it doesn’t sound that funny, but the way he was telling the story, and just the general silly atmosphere of that night and those couches – it was hilarious.
A bit later, I was laying down on one of the couches, star gazing, and that’s when I saw it: a sparkle in the sky.
That’s the only way to describe it. It was quick, <1 second and gone. It was bigger than all the other stars and shaped like… well, like a sparkle. ✨ It was the same color as the stars but way bigger. It was also at the same height as the stars.
It couldn’t have been a shooting star or meteor, not a plane or satellite, not a drone… Just weird.
But to be perfectly honest, I gas lit myself – convincing myself I didn’t see what I thought I saw and was unable and unwilling to rationalize it.
So, I said nothing and completely dismissed it, essentially pretending it didn’t happen.
<<< Cool playa art
A few minutes later, him and I were both star gazing in the same general direction when we both saw it: 2 sparkles, back-to-back, and almost right on top of each other!We were both totally shocked. He excitedly told me that’s exactly what he had been seeing and then I told him about the one I had seen. We spent a long time discussing what it could’ve been until finally we decided on just calling it a Sparkle in the Sky.
We declared that night to be the night we would forever remember as the night of the sky sparkles – also saying we would never forget each other because of it.
And forget him I won’t, though I don’t know what he looks like (it was dark) and never got his name.
Believe it or not, the story with this guy continues – a girl came up after the Sky Sparkle incident and flopped down on the couch next to me, upside-down, fists clutching her hair, kicking her legs in the air as she ecstatically told us about how amazing her festival was going.
She kept repeating “You just can’t make this sh*t up!” as she excitedly told us about this “crazy sexy hot guy” she had rode off into the playa at sunset with on the back of his motorcycle.
<<< Sheltering in Henry from a dust storm!
She repeated the “crazy sexy hot guy” part a lot too. It was very comical.Meanwhile, I was thinking her story sounded very similar to what my new friend had been telling me in regards to his ant story.
After a minute or 2 of silence, the guy sheepishly peeped in “I think that was me” – maybe she didn’t hear him because she didn’t say anything. A moment later, she looked towards us in the darkness with absolute shock in her voice and said “Wait, are you guys not my neighbors?”
I laughed pretty hard and said “We’re your couch neighbors!” – she definitely seemed embarrassed. I could imagine her recounting in her head what she had said to us and how she said it, all the things you do in moments like that.
I giggled, and then peeped in that I thought this guy was her “crazy sexy hot guy” she rode off into the sunset with. Then he spoke up and said “Yeah, I’m pretty sure that was me”.
Anyways! That about wraps up everything you might need to know about the festival and how funny the whole thing was! Afterwards, I volunteered and did strike team in order to attend for free.
It was supposed to be a 3 day volunteer shift after the festival, but on day one, we all mutually decided, with determination, to work super hard and do it all in one day.
It was hot, extremely dusty, and everyone was exhausted. With that being said, I’m super proud of everyone because we all remained in good spirits and were positive through all of it. It was beautiful.
There was only one other post-show volunteer there with me, and besides him (his name being T), it was the 4 people who actually threw the festival! It was really cool to be working along side with them, especially in light that they were all about my age and had just successfully thrown a 300-400 person festival.
T and I ended up becoming friends by the end of our volunteer shift and he invited me to his family’s house in Reno to shower and be stationary, sense he knew I lived on the road and didn’t have that luxury too often.It was super kind and so was his family. Their house was actually one of the nicest and most upper-class homes I had ever been in (besides the billionaire’s one in Miami that is). To my pleasant surprise, they were all super down to earth, with a big part of their family being avid Burners (people who attend Burning Man every year). Another cool thing was that they had multi-generations living in the house, from great-grandkids to great-grandparents – all learning and growing with each other.
With Love and Light and Desert Dust,
As beautiful and perfect as volunteering is, it can be financially difficult. If you find it in your heart to help contribute to these financial difficulties, here’s how you can do so:
- Paypal: firstname.lastname@example.org
- CashApp: $elizabethbuttram
- Venmo: @elizabeth-buttram-1