Every crowd has it’s in jokes and nicknames that serve to draw a line between those who have been around for a while and those who aspire to get in. The crowd that produced this wedding was no different. They never made me feel unwelcome, but there was a level at which they were communicating that I sensed I’d never penetrate.
Hey, I’m a charming gal, a professional communicator, a writer who finds other people’s stories fascinating. These abilities usually get me past the first barriers to friendship pretty fast. But none of my old tricks worked on these people.
This became apparent to me when we were working to put up the tent. I figured if I worked alongside the crew that was making this event happen, I’d get to know a few people and I’d be more comfortable during the party. I never made much of an in road. My Barn-mate Michael said, “One word sweetheart: age.” Michael is a decade older than me and explains many things that happen to him with that one word. But I didn’t feel that much older than the people around me, five or ten years at most, and there appeared to be several of my contemporaries around too.
As I got to know some people better, I got a sense of the reason for the gap. One man told me the only thing I needed to explain this to me was Crude Awakening. “I’m not even going to explain Crude Awakening to you,” Kelly said. “Look it up on the net.”
During one of my breaks from the party, I came to my room and looked Crude Awakening up on YouTube. Crude Awakening Fireball.
In 2007, this crew decided their presentation for Burning Man would be a 50-foot tall oil derrick in the middle of the desert built strong enough that the revelers could climb inside and use it as an observation platform. At the end of the week, when they burn the Man, they’d pump thousands of gallons of liquid propane through the structure and set off a massive fire ball in the night sky.
In order to do this, they had to plan very carefully. All the pieces had to be pre-cut here and loaded on trucks to be carried to the desert. They had to anticipate every tool and screw they’d need to build it. Then a dedicated bunch lived in the desert for four weeks before the festival began erecting the structure. Ah August in the desert! Baking heat, blistering sun and sand storms. The structure was a huge success and the the conclusion was a massive mushroom-shaped fireball cheered by a huge crowd.
These people have been pulling off impossible stunts like that for twenty years. When you work on a project like complicated, you bond in a way that goes beyond language. No matter how clever I was, or charming, I’d never be able to crack through that deep kind of association, the kind of bonding that comes at the end of a play you’ve worked on or, for me, a huge deadline story. People who have worked in those kinds of projects have fought hard, gotten drunk, rescued each other and betrayed each other. They know each other in the many dimensions of their characters and, they’re still around.
It would have taken much more than a hand, crafted corset and a matching parasol to get me in!