Out of the Closet

I haven’t mentioned it a whole lot, but I go to Burning Man. This year will be number eleven.

I’ve kept this on the down low here, in part because I hadn’t come out about being a Burner at work and wasn’t too confident that I would be able to keep my private site from being public knowledge indefinitely. Some of the connections made between Burning Man and those who attend are not the most helpful ones for career building, unless you’re from the Bay Area, in the entertainment industry, or if your boss happens to go too.

Oliver’s been ‘out’ at work from the get go, probably in part because he came back from the desert head over heels in love with someone he met there (and eventually married her) and being a PhD student at the time, really didn’t care about such things. He talked it up big time. When I came over to Germany to stay, it was important that people take me seriously and not write me off as a moon-eyed American in love with her exotic European crush, an infatuation that would fade before the summer tan did. I wanted a job and a visa and I needed to seem stable. Somehow Burning Man didn’t really fit into that.

Later on, I kept mum about the major portion of my August trips to the USA because it was a popular time to take vacation. I didn’t want to have to compete with Burning Man converts among my own team members and I didn’t want to give someone the bargaining chip of being able to claim their reason for vacation was better, or more worthy, than mine. It’s easy to make a bacchanalia in the desert seem less than essential. I have to admit to using the family reunion/grandma birthday fib more than once to diffuse interest and to stop all debate before it even began.

Americans talk a lot. We’re open books. We talk loud in public places and include unnecessary back story details so that listeners in the vicinity won’t be left out. We blab and then we blog. It’s been hard not to talk about Burning Man, especially because of the important role it’s taken in shaping my life. So many things that have influenced where I am and who I am today would never have happened if I hadn’t had decided, one day back in the summer of ’98 that I wanted to go to Burning Man.

When I thought we were moving to China, I let a lot of things slip and stopped caring so much. I’m ‘out’ at work now, although I really still don’t offer much information. References about BM have appeared at times here online, but for the most part I’ve kept it in the closet. I don’t know why I’ve kept that up though, it really doesn’t make much sense. Leaving out that side of the story leaves out a lot about me.

Summer has finally hit Munich and when it gets warm thoughts turn to Burning Man. It’s time to start planning and preparing. For me that first means: The List.

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2 responses to “Out of the Closet

  1. Because of the reputation that Americans have for being an open book as you said, a lot of readers assume I share everything on my site and therefore believe they know me. It’s so not true. I didn’t do it for work purposes, however, nor had I come to live in Europe for a man. For me, I guess it’s been about mystery and keeping some things for myself, plus the local language of the country I’m in has no equivalent for ‘privacy.’

    I have friends who have been going to BM for over a decade, and they all have a good time. It’s probably a bit more commercialized now in comparison to its grassroots days when only a handful attended, but I’ve never associated the event with anything negative or flaky. Just the opposite actually. How cool is it that you met O there!

    Have a great time and don’t forget your ‘to eat’ list. Mine sadly hasn’t been touched in 2 years.

  2. I’d never heard of BM. Pretty cool concept. Thanks for outing yourself!

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