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2002-09-03 1:38 p.m.

It feel strange to be back. But, I am back. Burning Man was all sorts of things that I would have expected it to be if I had thought to have any expectations at all. I managed to not have any expectations, though, so it all seemed like quite a surprise. Moments felt new, fresh. Even being hot and dusty and thirsty and tired and sun–baked in the desert seemed almost surprising. Each instant felt unique, and this made the days seem endless.

My back hurts so much from yesterday's grueling, ten–hour car ride that moving my head and neck is almost unbearable. Working hurts. Carrying my iced tea hurts.

Work feels like a sanctuary right now. I am alone. The near–slience of hard drives whirring fills the edges of my office. Nobody knocks on my door; nobody comes to talk with me. After ten days of nonstop stimuli, I finally get a few moments of silence; I finally get time to digest. Alone.

I feel solemn today, like one who has been challenged for too many days. Or, like someone who has just graduated. I tried to smile a few times, but my face was too tired; my soul was too tired. Walking through the cafeteria I heard someone whistling "Walking In a Winter Wonderland" and I managed to smile on the inside. My face, though, was busy resting—relaxing back into old shapes. As I walked away from the whistling, I wondered if they were whistling "Winter Wonderland" because it was funny to sing Christmas songs in late summer. I always sing Christmas songs in the summer, and I thought I was the only one. For some reason, that is the only time those sorts of songs come into my mind. Plus, it just seems funnier to me that way. But, then it occured to me that they might have been singing "Nipples Shooting Fire Rays of Death" to the tune of "Walking in a Winter Wonderland". I never finished the rest of the words to "Nipples Shooting Fire Rays of Death"...maybe I should do it before the Christmas season is upon me and I lose interest in songs with those sorts of melodies.

These thoughts disappeared as I walked back to my office. The air here smells so completely unlike a desert, and my Christmas song thoughts were replaced with the olfactory recognition of grass and trees and soft winds and flowers and cement walkways. It hurt to drink the iced tea, but I did it anyway.