Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Beauty of Bacon

Despite the bleak, east coast wintry weather, my 84 years old father is perched at his desk, in his pajamas, patiently waiting for bacon.

"Why am I wearing my pajamas?" he asks

"Because you want bacon," I tell him

"Okay," he says

Later, after a huge helping of bacon, pancakes and melon slices he adds, "That’s good bacon, I'm going to wear my pajamas again tomorrow!"

It is Wednesday afternoon, January 14, 2009. I am perched at my desk, in my pajamas impatiently glaring at the digitally displayed time that narrowly appears in the lower right hand corner of my desk top screen.

Today is ticket day, our first chance at securing a spot at Burning Man 2009. You know it will be a mess. There will surely be snags, crashes, and meltdowns and I imagine the staff's temperament mimics the inevitable computer glitches. The anticipation is invigorating even for my father, who taps his foot, smiles and softly sways to a "playa magic" Pretty Lights tune.

My west coast campmates have joined forces at a midpoint coffee house that shall, due to the distaste of branding, remain nameless. They share a cup of joe, poured into their playa christened mugs, and turkey bacon. Our wifi connection allows us to share a moment drenched in love and a longing to be home.

I can’t help but wallow in my good fortune; to be part of a nurturing, compassionate family both on and off the playa, to have the freedom to arrive at work, a company my father founded 50 years ago, dressed in pj’s, and to have the vision, passion, and funds necessary to make the yearly journey to this bountiful wasteland.

For me, its not the lower priced tickets that prompts my persistence. It’s the pleasure that comes from feeling connected. I do, of course realize, the demand and, as in the past, follow my self implied principle of gift one, keep one.

Minutes turn into hours, impatience is eclipsed by determination, as I watched my screen go from “TRY AGAIN” to “TIMED OUT”. Paypal, Visa, Mastercard…. Enter, reenter, reply… and still no sure fire sign of victory.

And then…….. the emails.

Email, upon email, upon email… a never ending trail of gratitude, acknowledging my order again, and again, and again.

My initial elation is short lived when my bank's urgent automated warnings begin to post. Overdraw after overdraw after overdraw. Notice of fines followed by a growing negative balance in first my main account, which flows into my overdraft account, and then crashes into my savings account.

A backpedaled parade of calls to my bank and credit cards, intertwines with emails to Paypal and the “Burning Man Powers that Be" swallow up the following 2 days, and in between it all and foremost in my mind is a gnawing fear that I have wiped out ALL of my purchases.

Despite the assurance from the bank, credit card company, paypal and Burning Man staff, I remain cautiously optimistic until a bulging gray cardboard envelope arrives weeks later. Inside it, 2 priceless tickets and one lemon, sourball candy.

And the pure joy of knowing I am on my way home.



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