I remember the first time I saw him. It was night on the playa four years ago. I was walking back from the bathroom and I spied his flickering flame. I thought to myself, was that really a VW bus on fire? I had stepped into my ring of fire.
I dared not approach without a personal introduction. (I didn't want to mess this one up.) So I watched from afar, burning with anticipation, knowing the right time would come in the right time. A week went by and a friend took me to a pot-luck and he was there!!! I say a shy hello and kept my distance, watching all the time. Eating some of the meat he was cooking and taking in his warmth. It was a short interaction, but it was enough for the year.
Over the next year I learned a little more about him, but didn't see him until we were back on the playa. I was still shy (I really had the hots for this guy and didn't want to screw it up) and went into full force reconnaissance. I'd grill Toasty as he loaded up the wagon with pallets of wood, throwing in a few pieces myself. Toasty had to leave early that year and I took on his wood duty, chucking pallets of wood into him.
One night, late at night, someone yelled something and like a breath exhaled from a beast, the circle around the fire stepped back into the darkness. We all held our breath and counted down the explosions. Then someone handed me something and pointed. This was it. This a moment I had been waiting for. I threw it in and with that explosion a wall in my psyche blew open. (Who says you have to wait for a door to open? ;) )
That was the beginning of our relationship. I'd stoke his flames, build the flames higher, throw him pecks on the cheek, and he'd respond. Sometimes an explosion, sometimes a vent, sometimes colored flame. The week would end and we both go home. Another year would pass until we saw each other again.
Last year he returned
with some modifications. We fed him wood, he fed us pizza in the wee
hours of the night. Obscuro and Bob taught me how to care for him with a shovel and leaf blower. At
the end of the week I unloaded his ashes. It was our first intimate quiet
Enter this year. I arrived on playa Thursday night (Friday morning) at 12:30am. Camp was dark, except for the light of the moon. I pulled up in the truck, searching for any recognizable landmarks and then I saw him. And I knew I was home.
The wood wouldn't arrive for several days, so he stayed dark (save one night). He had lost a door and looked in pretty bad shape. But my love for him hadn't died. I knew this was the year for us. I even brought my fireproof suit.
Throughout the week, we burned 7 pallets of wood - 4 cords. I lost my voice singing cheezy 80s ballads at 3 in the morning. Jetfuel and Kasey made him a new door, and I blew it off twice. After the playa was graced by a double rainbow and we frolicked with my unicorns, I mounted Zarka's unicorn head as his hood ornament. Later Sam and Sloane helped me burn it with Kerosene and Gasoline. Smoke Daddy judged the Fire in the Hole competition, basically me and JetFuel competing. Jet's entry was reminiscent of SRL (with big booms and a smoke grenade). Mine was multiple booms. Just when we thought it was over, the best, biggest boom rocked a mushroom cloud over the car-b-que. My prize was a bowling ball on a chain padlocked to my ankle. There was no key.
When it came time to burn my unicorns, I took them around and let everyone whisper their dreams into their ears. Ben and Sam stuffed him full of my favorite cooking fuel. I lifted them up and put them into the burning fire. I watched the paint, horns and eyes melt like in Raiders of the Lost Ark - and then the head exploded and landed at my feet. (Um, no, I was not on drugs, dude - I was high on fire.) I hope someone got a picture of me standing on the burning car-b-que chucking propane into the flames. That was the highlight for me. H-bomb in her firesuit glory mounting the burning car-b-que, chucking in cooking fuel, jumping off (on my twisted ankle) and stepping back into the dark, only to be lit up.
I did leave the car-b-que - but not for long. In my night sojourns, I would longingly look back to Ubie, our 40+ ft neon camp marker - thinking of him, flames a flickering at home.
Home is where the car-b-que is. Where I can chuck wood and butane into him. Cook pizza, bacon, steak and bread on him. And where I can sit by the fire, watch the flames, the sky and my friends. I love you car-b-que.
"I swear that I can see forever in your flames. Almost Paradise!"
Your fingers, the wind ruffling my hair. My leather gloves burned caressing your steel skin, feeling/feeding your fire. Each explosion a passionate kiss. Each kiss an explosion. Thank you.