The week/weekend before Labor Day is a special time in San Francisco. It begins with a large number of citizens packing up vans and trucks with all the water, art bikes and sand goggles they can carry and then leaving for the desert in Nevada, creating what is sometimes referred to as #burningmanrapture ("Burning Man Rapture" if you don't read hashtag). This blissful week is characterized in the city by an availability of parking spots, tables at popular brunch locations and hands-on assists in yoga classes. For me, it is also tinged with sorrow. My uncle was one of the original Burning Man dudes and I have always secretly wanted to go. Every year it gets worse, with more and more of my friends going and more and more of me having a job, no car and no discretionary spending money. I always wonder what is so great that is happening over there in the hot sun? Is it really a perfect spiritual/artistic utopia? Will I ever get to join that elite group of 50,000 having SUCH A MAGICAL TIME in the desert? This year though, I only let my jealousy consume me for a minute. Then everyone left town and I realized the only thing I could possibly do was have the best week ever: For one thing, most of the office started emptying out early in the week. No one was there to tell me that Hammer pants don't count as "dressing for success." I just put on my headphones, drank some tea and turned my cubicle into my own private Burning Man dance party! Except I got paid and I didn't have to die of heat stroke! This was also a great time to practice all the skills that I am usually too embarrassed to practice in front of other people. Burning Man is a family event so that means the 200 pre-teen boys usually at the skate park were laughing at idiotic grown-ups a whole state away from me and I could practice "dropping in" (by which I mean sliding down to the bottom of the bowl on my bum) without any judgment, all day long. Whole yoga classes were raptured during the week, which meant your pick of spots by the windows or a wall and all the personal attention during poses you could ever want. In terms of getting coffee, this was the week for it. Who knew it was even possible to sit on one of the benches in front of Philz? Or to get a table at Ritual? Or to sit at the parklet in front of Four Barrel? Oh, you wanted brunch? Universal was open for business without its trademark 2 hour wait on Sunday morning. And there were so many open tables, you could have had your family reunion at Bugaloos if you wanted. If you want a sandwich at Ike's, this was the only weekend of the year I think you would have been able to get one without standing in line for the entire day. Sorry. It wasn't just eating establishments: the whole city was quiet. A deserted Civic Center made me wonder if they have a special bus for the homeless so they can attend Burning Man too. And tourists? Do they also go to Black Rock City? Apparently they do. This is also the perfect weekend to get all your organic, cooperative grocery shopping done. And if you've ever wanted to park your car on Valenica or Mission, that time has come and gone. The streets were empty and if you wanted, you could pretend you were riding your art bike on the playa (honestly, I don't really know what that means) (but here are my friends Courtney and Heather, making it happen). For the first time ever, we had our pick of tables at Zeitgeist. And enough space to hula hoop. The low number of people out also made it easier to make friends with people who usually wouldn't talk to you (especially if you are, for some reason, wearing Lycra ski racing suits) (pictured: Heather, Marissa, tough motorcycle club prospect, me, Courtney). We basically had Dolores Park to ourselves. Again, for all the hula-hooping we could handle. And front row seats (only row seats) to free shows in the park. The weather was so beautiful and we had so much space/time in the park, that I even got a sunburn. Maybe next year I will finally go to Burning Man. But as people start straggling back into the city and I think about all the driving I didn't have to do and all the showers I got to take, I realize I am already starting to miss those last glorious days of summer, and I don't feel so bad that I was left behind to fend for myself in the Burning Man Rapture.
We Had So Much Fun While You Were At Burning Man