I'm excited for Burning Man.
I arrived in Berthoud, CO to meet Simone and Eric; I met Eric in 2004, since he offered me a ride back to the Reno airport from Burning Man. He camped with the HeeBeeGeeBee Healers, a peaceful yoga-and-massage-centered camp. Since then, he's gotten married, I got unmarried, and we kept in touch by email. When I said I was planning a tour, he suggested a quiet little art center near him called Wildfire and said I could stay with him and his wife Simone. I've rarely been in a place that was so restful, even with the screams of their almost two year old (Tadgh, pronounced "Tiger-without-the-R"). Their house is cool and inviting, their company even more so; I'd never met Simone before, but by the end of the weekend, she was calling me "sweetie" and I didn't really want to leave. We talked yoga and politics and Australia and child-raising and I showed them the Easter Egg on LOTR that is a fake interview between Elijah Wood and Dom Monaghan.
But I did. I got in my car and drove a half hour south to Boulder, CO to stay with Christy and Wolf.
Wolf was the most passionate love of my life. I met him in Morocco; I was traveling at the time with a New York Jewish girl named Jessamyn and we had meandered our way to Fes. We were sitting at a table in the medina when a dirty, smelly, wild-haired stranger came up and threw his arms around her; this, it transpired, was Wolf, on his however-many-th month of traveling. Had I heard of Burning Man? No. But he told me. That was the first time I'd heard of it. That night, we curled together under a blanket and looked at the stars from the rough roof of the hostel, and I fell head over heels for him.
We traveled together for five months, through Spain and France and Germany and Hungary and the Czech Republic, climbed mountains in Slovakia, traveled 37 hours straight to get to the Morccan Sahara for the last Solstice of the Millenium. We stripped naked in the dunes and lay on our scarves until a windstorm came up and pushed us inside; we leaned against each other on trains and slept in each other's laps and hitch-hiked and snuck into an abandoned hostel in Berlin. I was eighteen when we met. I've never been so in love in my life, and probably, thanks to the weight of youthful emotion and vagaries of circumstance, will never be so in love again.
We were not right for each other. When we both returned to the States, he went to Colorado and I went to Pittsburgh and it fell apart, for numerous reasons. I've seen him once since then, for a few minutes, at Burning Man 2006, and it was anticlimactic; he was over the moon on Ecstasy and I was apprehensive and nervous. I've not spent any time with him in a social situation since 1999. I missed him for four years. Then it faded to a low-level simmer. I always thought of him, always remembered him (with mixed emotions) as the most amazing, most passionate, most free-spirited person I have ever met. Creative, smart, funny, dorky.
Now, he's a stranger. It's funny; he's the same person but completely not. He has the same smile, sometimes, peeking from underneath his shock of hair, and the same scar on his arm. But nine years have passed, in which he is married to Christy (whom I met through him, and is now my very dear friend), and so much has happened to me. We are totally different, but I remember the time we spent together and feel a pang of loss for that familiarity; the hardest thing in the world is disinterest in the voice of someone you love or once loved. I still love Wolf. I would travel the world to help him, even if he never asked for it.
It's hard to meet a stranger who used to be the most important person in the world to you, who heard you sing and wrote you poems and whose hair your brushed. I am tentative and careful, so as not to break the tenuous connection we have. It may sound like I'm supplicative here; I'm not. Only reflective, sad. Most of us have to wait longer for our nostalgia to kick in.