Back. Home. Kinda.

Thirty-three days and 4062 miles later, we're home.

Except it doesn't actually feel so much like home right now. I mean, our stuff is here and our creatures are here and there are friends and family and school. But somehow, it feels like it's just masquerading as home. Familiar, but not quite exactly right.

Burners refer to this feeling as Post-Playa Depression. Articles pop-up reminding us of the little things, especially NOT to make any important decisions within the tender weeks after you return.

Monkey Re-Entry Rule Number 1:
Wait three weeks before you make any life-changing decisions...
Step 1. Take a shower, hippie. Shave, shower, steam everything off. Take two. Or three. Then go to sleep. You need it.
Step 2. Clean your gear. Wash your clothes, car, stuff, or pack it up into the Burner corner of your house. Pack it away and dry it out. Recycle, do your garbage, and wash your dishes. Get it put away.
Step 3. Breathe. Go through all your Burner stuff from this year, sort and organize, and then happily stash it away for good memories for later.
— Albert Kaufman

Many schedule decompression events (from small personal things to large regional events) to come together with other Burners and try to ease back into the world as we know it. There is a whole culture around coming back to your life. The last time we went to Burning Man, I really didn't feel it. I thought it was some radical Burner thing. That said, I was only on Playa for four days last time. This time? Ten. Last time, that was my whole trip. This time? Thirty-three days away from home. 


But I'd like to submit it's not all due to Burning Man. For me, it's about taking a step out of my life and then being forced to return and cope with all the things. Before we left, our lives had taken a huge hit and we were in crisis mode. Everything felt broken and raw and like you had to hold up a shield to any conversation. Leaving town was the smartest thing we could have done for our family. Being away meant we could focus on the things that mattered RIGHT NOW. We could alter our perspective and look at the world with wonder again. We could stay in the company of good friends and not talk about it, if we didn't want to. We could start each day plotting our route and our survival and spending long hours sitting next to each other. We sang loudly, we car danced, we listed to audio books, we argued about things until we dissolved into giggles, we refereed fights between the girls with the words, "We're a family! We need each other! I need you to show love, dammit!"

Home feels different and that's maybe a good thing. It's like a jacket that has been let out a little too much and now we need to take it in or learn to fill it with our curves. Now we need to rethink all the things. We need to make plans. We have to reevaluate what comes next. 

Good news is, we can do that. And it's going to be epic. 


Photo of me and the Mister © by Erich Remash. All other images © Elaine Gingery.