We drove home amidst burners on Sunday night and it was so sad passing by the dust covered cars and the sullen faces. No one smiled at us, no one waved at us, no one seemed to have any energy for anything except following the dull gray road back to the real world. We pulled over in Reno and got some cold, greasy fast food, which was pretty sad, since I'd spent the whole week anticipating my first hot meal back in "civilization" and instead I got cold MacDonalds.
In MacDonalds I saw lots of dust caked, dull eyed burners waiting around and I smiled at each of them, tried to catch their eye because I knew they had to be mourning just as I was and I wanted to carry the love of the playa back with me. I figured they could reciprocate my knowing glance, smile with the knowledge that we had all just been through something together, even if we hadn't met out there . . . and yet not a single one of them smiled or returned my gaze . . . just turned away. I guess because we were back in the real world, and in the real world you aren't allowed to smile at random strangers, you aren't allowed to strike up conversation with the person next to you. I couldn't really hold back the tears. I confess I wept a little at the table.
Yesterday school started and it was back to the daily grind. I made an effort to smile or say "hello" to EVERYONE who caught my eye, despite the fact that NO ONE returned my efforts. I left school slightly disheartened and drove home sullen and bleary eyed.
Just as I approached my exit, I glanced at the car next to me and saw a busted-ass blue vehicle covered in a thick film of dust, the windows open and a tired looking young girl with matted, dusty hair gazing back at me from within. I turned back to the road and started to exit the freeway before snapping back for a double take a second later. My eyes wandered to the back of the car, where I could see sleeping bags and water bottles stuffed in the back, and somehow I just KNEW . . . I didn't have to force my smile, it came naturally. She smiled back, lifting one hand in a weak wave. I think she knew too.
kabuki -- Burning Man 2003 -- 6 Degrees of Neighbors -- 5:55 Faith