18 years is a long time to have not visited the Playa. For a number of my own reasons and logistics and situations I last made the slow 5 MPH crawl off the pavement and onto the hard-packed dusty playa in 2001, or what I think was 2001. This year, for a number of my own reasons and logistics and situations, I decided that I really really REALLY needed to go back. And so I did. And for a whopping 45 hours I was home again.
I can safely say after having almost a week (that’s like three months in Playa time) to fully comprehend my - albeit too short - return visit, I won't make my 18 year hiatus a recurring one.
A lot can happen in 18 years but it THRILLED ME AND PLEASED ME TO NO FUCKING END that what HASN'T CHANGED is that the core base of love, humor, friendship and community that sucked me in all those years ago hasn't changed A BIT. All of it, in fact, has grown stronger, is better, IS FUNNIER, and feels tighter than ever. To be able to participate in and witness and experience everything as if I had never left was a much needed hug, one not weakened by the time warp I’d leapfrogged in order to get there.
What I had been told to prepare myself for but really had no way to was the change in sheer size / volume / scale of the whole thing. What used to be an open playa dotted with mysteries and artistic stumblings throughout is now a massive, well-occupied stretch of canvas with choreographed LED displays, massive fire-breathing mountains of steel and roaming vehicular art displays as far as the eye can see. It was numbing to stand out in the middle of “nowhere” and make a 360 degree pivot to see virtually the same amount of flashy and blinky and fire-y in every direction.
Good on you, citizens of Black Rock City, good on you. SO good to have gone home.