Hello My Beloveds,
I'm putting up my playa journal entries, slowly but surely, on my Live Journal, if you're interested. I'm still editing the hundreds and hundreds of pictures we always take, but I did put a few up a couple of days ago and you'll be able to see those as well.
It's been hard coming back this year. I've been in a bigger depressed funk than I can ever remember being in. Maybe because I spent every dime I had, and then borrowed more, in order to get there and back, and came back super poor for the entire month of September. I've never been to a Decompression before, but since I'm super aware of how much we need it, I'm going to grab my son and make the drive all the way from LA to San Francisco and give it a try.
I've already taken all of the dreads and colors out of my hair and packed away the costumes, so we'll have to improvise somehow : )
I hope you're all happy and well. I'm doing better finally, my back went out this year for the first time, (I'm a single Mom and I always overdo it, with all the shopping, packing and unpacking, and driving a thirty foot RV from LA to Black Rock and back) and I had to spend a good amount of time resting it instead of getting to go out and play.
It didn't help that I got jumped this year by some poor crazy man who was whacked out of his mind on some seriously aggressive substance. He came at me from out of nowhere, really, (it probably seemed that way because he wasn't wearing anything other than a pair of super dusty boxers, and he definitely wasn't lit in any way,) and after trying to push me over once, and then wrestling with my bike while I tried to hang on, he just kind of went after the big white fairy wings that were zip-tied to the basket on the back. He tackled me to the ground and might have done worse had it not been for the Sheriff who had been tailing him and was there within seconds to help me up.
While he went after the guy who knocked me down, I dusted myself off and wiped away my hurt feelings, (and tears), by looking up at the stars and the lights of the city. I felt so wounded and alone out there in the dark. I took my time making my way to the med tent, because I had so wanted to get out and see the city by night, but when the blood started running down my legs I thought I might as well ask for a little help.
When I got there I was surprised to see my "friend" the man who had leapt out at me from out of the darkness. He looked different in the light, more helpless, surprisingly vulnerable and handsome. He was surrounded by law enforcement -- big men in green and khaki -- bound at his ankles and his hands were tied behind his back. He was fighting them, trying to get up, shouting and mumbling incoherent things, while they tried to get information from him, and offered him cups of water.
When he saw me he looked at me with the most plaintiff expression and said, "Help me?" I was sitting on a cot and a nurse was cleaning the gash on my knee and the cuts on my legs. I said to her, "I think that's the guy who just knocked me off my bike," and she said, "I think it is too." Everyone already seemed to know about what had happened to me, but I had been alone out there for about an hour in the dark, feeling a wee bit sorry for myself, and was surprised that there had been some kind of follow up and that I really wasn't alone in this after all. The second time he asked me to help him he said, "Help me? Please?" and I felt so sorry for him that I said, "You're the one who hurt me, how can I help you?"
Then minutes later, as the kind volunteer nurse, (someone should give these people buckets of gold and medals for the work they all do), was almost done bandaging up my knee, I felt a light tap on my shoulder and heard one of the sheriff's say, "Excuse me, ma'am? Jack here has something he would like to say to you." I turned to look at him and saw that all of the sheriffs and rangers had kind of stepped aside in order for us to be able to see each other. Jack, (interestingly enough he had the same name as my Father, and me), looked at me again with that sad, pleading expression and said, "I'm sorry." So I said, "Okay, thanks," and turned away. Then he got up, took three ankle tied hops towards me and said, "I'm really, really sorry!" So I said, "It's okay, just take care of yourself, and please don't hurt anyone else."
I don't know what happened to him after that. I would have liked it if they let him sleep it off or work it out of his system somehow, but I've heard a few different stories. One is that he was "007d" which in Ranger speak means that he was kicked off the playa. Another is that he was arrested and given a federal warrant to return to court where he will likely be given the minimum sentence of thirty days. I wish there was some way to follow up on this and learn the truth. I don't think he meant to harm me, (it was my bike he was angry at), or that his sober self would have meant to, I don't know. But I do think that as much as he was a threat to the community, and himself, that I should have a say in this, that anyone else he may have hurt could work it out with him somehow rather than through some distant legal process that we are not even included in or privy to in any way. He may have been a victim himself -- may have been dosed by someone. I met at least one other man who this happened to this year.
So that's it, another weird story to add to the chain. I still love my city. I'll still return, maybe with just a little more awareness, maybe I won't travel alone at night, or maybe I'll get a better bike light so I can see things coming at me from the side. I know I'll take the same advice we give our kids, "Don't drink or eat anything that someone who you don't know offers you." And next time I get hurt out there, if there is a next time, maybe I'll have a little more faith and know that I'm really not alone, and that there are a lot of people who really do care.