When we purchased our Burning Man tickets, Karl said to me, “All first-timers have a nervous breakdown of some kind.” We didn’t know that my breakdown would come on the first night.

Burning Man presents a lot of unfamiliar stimuli all at once. Hugs from everyone! Naked boobies everywhere! Manual labor in an inhospitable environment! By the end of my arrival day, after dealing with an afternoon-long headache, I started attacking a friendly fellow Ashram camper with my frustrations.

“Why do you even like coming to Burning Man? It’s hard, and I can’t find my toothbrush. Fuck this shit.”

Instead of telling me to stick it and going off to enjoy himself, this veteran Burner brought me some water, sat down with me, and chatted calmly until I was done bitching. He refused, in his gentle and persistent care of me, to let me feel like I was on the outside of this Burning Man experience.

My kind fellow Ashram camper asked me, “Why did you come to Burning Man?”

Karl looked at me, eagerly awaiting my reply.

“I came because it’s important to Karl,” I said, immediately sensing that this wasn’t going to be a satisfactory answer.

-Please, no one show my husband this Catapult essay by by Catherine LaSota about indulging her husband’s desire to attend Burning Man together. LaSota takes much better to the dusty, trippy “City in the Desert” than I likely would. If I were to attend. Which I will not.

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