Burning Man was hard, great, and definitely what we needed.
Hard because it was – with my current health problems – by far the most physically strenuous Burning Man for me. I’ve never been weaker, less able to run around doing things, and so exhausted at the end of each day. I overdid it our first few days of building our camp, and spent the next few in a high-ish level of pain. By the time the pain faded, and I’d had a few days of taking it easy, it was time to break down the camp. I managed my part in that without triggering more pain, and I’m happy to say that I could feel that I was physically stronger. Now that I’m back I can work on going to the gym and doing the exercises my physical therapist gave me, and keep getting myself more and more on track physically.
Burning Man was great because…well, it’s Burning Man, and we love it there. So much to look at. So much to do. So many people we love. I spent a bit of quality time with Aaron, a guy I’ve been dating…ish for a few years. He’s on the other side of the country, and we’re rarely free at the same time. We’re probably more of make-out buddies at this point. But he’s a lovely person, and it was wonderful to spend some time with him, talking, kissing, and snuggling.
Beyond making out with Aaron, Jon and I had a lot of fun biking around, making new friends, seeing old friends, exploring art and various activities, and generally having a wonderful time. As much as I generally enjoy the way my life is set up, being at Burning Man is like a wonderful vacation to a magical wonderland where so many unusual and delightful things can (and often do) happen at any time. Like my friend/former partner Richie said when ending his “What did you do last night?” story: “Then we woke up in the middle of the playa in a swimming pool filled with stuffed animals. There were people handing out bacon and margaritas nearby, so we were able to get a great start on our morning.”
It’s that kind of place.
On the subject of Lora, Jon and I had a few more interesting talks. Leading into those talks, we headed to the Temple one day. I planned on leaving a note that Lora had written me. Lora had written it to try to apologize, and be nice. But what that note looked like to me, and felt like to me, was Lora spinning more bullshit to try to cover up her bad behavior and shift responsibility to someone else. I think the thing about it that pissed me off the most was that she ended it by telling me that this time, she’s really listening. This was the third time that Lora was supposedly “really listening” and theoretically copping to her bad behavior.
Anyways, I had that note, and I planned on writing a message to Lora and leaving the message and the note at the Temple, for it to burn during the Temple burn. But I realized, after wandering around the Temple for over an hour that I didn’t want to leave her a note there. Lora didn’t merit enough in my life, that I wanted to commemorate her like that. I was ready to let go. What I really wanted to do was just…come back after Burning Man and live my life. And if that life involved hearing a bit about Lora from Jon, that was fine. Because it really didn’t bother me the way it used to. Them breaking up, and seeing more and more each day that the two of them wouldn’t get back together as long as she was so abusive, was enough.
I felt a little guilty, I have to say. I felt guilty that Jon walking away from someone who he loved so much and thought that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with meant very little to me. I probed that, and realized that it was because a lot of my pain and anger was second-hand. I felt badly that Jon was hurting at walking away, but Lora was too abusive and controlling for my feeling bad for Jon to outweigh my enormous relief that he decided to break up with her. And then I had a bit of a realization that poly is just like any other relationship, in a way. Just as I would be relieved if a friend broke up with a shitty ex, being poly didn’t mean that my predominant feelings for a lover breaking up with someone else had to be sadness. Being happy that they broke up didn’t make me less poly; it made me human. Being it wasn’t sharing Jon with Lora that bothered me, it was seeing Lora abuse Jon that bothered me. Being happy that he was no longer together with his abuser was a good thing.
Those feeling laid more to rest, I felt like I could move on more.
A few days later, Jon came back to our camp from a bike ride around the time that I was waking up from a nap. He looked a bit more serious and contemplative than he usually did after a few hours roaming the playa. I asked how his ride went. He said that it was good, but that something weird happened. He went out in part specifically to go to the Temple and leave a message for Lora. And though he sat there and cried about their relationship, and cried for Lora and her pain and anger, he couldn’t bring himself to write a message to her. Stumbling, he told me how much as the relationship hurt, it didn’t hurt him on a fundamental level. He didn’t need the kind of closure or letting go that writing a message in the Temple was for. And he felt shitty, because he had loved Lora a lot, and still cared for her, and wondered what it meant that he didn’t feel like leaving a message was necessary, as he’d thought it was.
I shared my feelings about leaving a message with Lora. His face cleared up a little bit. He understood. And he said he realized that that was part of it for him. Much as he loved her, there was only so much grieving he could do for someone who’d treated him so poorly, and yet…in a way, not poorly enough. By that, I mean that there are messages in the Temple from people who have been badly abused, or deeply hurt to the core by another person. Messages of letting go, of saying ‘fuck you’, of an intent to make a clean break from someone else and take life back. While Lora hurt Jon a lot, and Jon felt a bit bruised by the experience, he didn’t feel deeply damaged, or like he needed to completely rebuild himself after the relationship. He – like me – felt like leaving a message at the Temple to let go of someone was for truly grievous pain.
Painful as Lora had been to both of us, she wasn’t that painful.
It feels uncomfortable to try to quantify pain in such a way. I deeply hope that none of my words sound as though I’m trivialize another person’s pain, or even that I’m making a blanket statement about what level of pain is required to leave a message for someone in the Temple. All I can speak of is the feelings that Jon and I have about that, and our decision in the end to not leave a message. Other people make their decisions as they wish.
We did go back to the Temple together one last time to exchange rings. Not much to be said about that. We’ve said so many words of love to each other already; it was a mostly wordless exchange. He slid my ring onto my finger. I did the same for him. We hugged for a long time.
And then we headed back out into the desert to find another adventure.
The week ended with a bit of excitement for Jon, on the romance front. Well, at least the making out front. On another night, I was too tired to stay out and play, but he was feeling frisky, so he went out for a romp. On his romp, he met a lovely woman who he spent much of the night roaming the playa with, and some amount of time making out with. They left each other at dawn, with enough shared information to look one another up online, if desired, but no concrete plans to do so. He came back giddy with delight at meeting someone and having a bit of a snog.
I was completely delighted for him. Seeing him excited about meeting someone, and kissing them was absolutely wonderful. He’s absolutely adorable when he’s excited about someone. I hadn’t seen that side of him before, and I hope I see a lot more of it, whenever he’s ready to explore it. Yes, I did feel a small pang of jealousy, not that he’d met someone and made out with them, but more that I didn’t have the energy to go on an all-night romp with him. That said, I know that sleeping that night was the right thing for me, and that him going out was the right thing for him. The delight I felt about the fun he had that night far outweighed the jealousy pang of wishing I’d have been able to go out with him.
If only we could leave things there. But no, getting back to civilization, there was some drama from Lora. However, as this post is already a bit long, I’m going to save it for the next one. For the moment, I want to leave things on mostly a happy note that Burning Man was a wonderful time for both of us. I think it gave us both exactly what we needed. I definitely came back feeling stronger and happier, and Jon seems to have too.