Bringing Mom To The Burn


My family has always been a big part of my Burn, although most have never been.

My brother went with me my first year in 1998, and for the next 7.

My Grandpa called Burning Man my “congregation” and sent heirlooms with me (like his childhood bible) to burn each year.  I placed his ashes in the Temple in 2007.

My grandma sewed my first fur pants. (Including a matching fur bag, “because I had left over fabric,” she said.)

And when my grandma passed on, my mom became my go-to seamstress for my Playa creations.

I truly love the bonding that my mom and I share each summer as we craft together in preparation for the Burn.

She helped me sew cushion covers for the Hugmobile, fur covers for my platform boots, and helped create the epic Octobike. (aka “Snuffleoctobike”).

Every couple years I half-heartedly asked if she would ever want to go to Burning Man.   Truthfully, I didn’t sell it very well – and she showed no interest.

But something happened this summer.

I showed my mom a video called “Charlie goes to Burning Man.” It showed a man 10 years older than her who gushed about his experience. Then I showed her photos including one of a man wearing a “Halcyon’s Dad” t-shirt. (It was NOT my dad. Just a beautiful white-haired man who painted his hair pink and donned a pink tutu..)

She said, “If I went, would I get a t-shirt?”

Wait. What? The door was cracked open and I quickly started on preparations to get my mom to the Burn.   (She had a friend that wanted to go badly. An old PTA mom that I grew up with as well. I realized that if I could make it easy for both of them, it just might happen. )

I had access to 2 tickets. A campmate had decided they did not need a Sani-hut that was reserved. And I figured that with minimal stress and zero lines, Mom & a friend could shuttle in from Reno on Monday and fly out of BRC on Thursday.   Decadent? Perhaps…but this whole adventure was in the realm of fantasy from the start.

Mom (Susie) and Dee came to our last camp meeting the next day. They met campmates and asked lots of questions. “If you are serious,” I told them, “you should come to our last work party.” Susie and Dee showed up early wearing work gloves and spent half a day glue-gunning pink fur to the last of our camp couches. They were participating.

They were welcomed into Pink Heart with open-hearted enthusiasm.

It is hard to explain what sharing Burning Man with my mom was like.

My brother has a beautiful family and has given my mom 2 amazing grandsons.

I, on the other hand,  have given my mom a box of pink hair dye and a pink motorhome. Oh, she loves me dearly and is very proud of me. But how can a non-Burner ever fully understand that part of your life?

Which is why I was so thrilled to share BRC.  I would finally be able to share my “baby,” Pink Heart, with her.

Introducing her to my campmates was like letting her meet my family.   I may not be able to give her grandkids, but I was able to finally introduce her to my “baby,” Pink Heart.

I was able to invite her “Home” to meet the larger community that I feel so deeply connected to. She quickly felt like they were her family, too.

And she got to see the way I am on the Playa.  My highest self.  The way I help lead the camp. The way I gift and hug and love. She got to see the Playa through my eyes and it helped her see me in a way she never had before.

Mom had a brief stay, but she dove right in. She went on ice runs for our Cucumber Water bar. She served vegan ice cream. She shared wisdom with my campmates. Together we shared tears.

We cried together at the Man. We cried together at the temple. We cried together quite a bit.

But the most emotional part was when she helped me co-lead my annual Pink Ride.   It is always a highlight for me, but this one was extra special. She rode a pink fur bike by my side as several hundred people dressed in pink rode behind us. All of us saying, “I love you!” to everyone we passed.

We descended upon Center Camp and filled it with a glorious pink spiral of love. My playa family and my mom mixed together in tear-flowing, heart soaring bliss.

A week later, when we both had returned to the default world, I told her, “That ride with you…it was one of the highlights of my entire life.”

We were both already crying when she said, “It was for me, too.”

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