Slightly Off Center

Another thing I didn’t do this year: Treasure your memories

By Dennis Hinkamp

I can’t remember many specific dates since March 15th and that’s okay. Turns out you really don’t look at the calendar so much as you feel your way through the year on the braille of events.

It’s time for the first fresh tomato sandwich or that last woody corn on the cob of the season. It’s time for the sunsets to have a spectacular wildfire haze filter and fewer air conditioner nights. Spared the annoyance of birthdays, anniversaries and holidays, we would still find our way.

I’m feeling a little hot and restless right now as I write this in early September because I sense I should be somewhere else. I should be at Burning Man. That’s where I have been, roughly this time and temperature, for the last 22 years; nearly one-third of my life.

Burning Man was one of the many events to cancel due to the C-word. Like many canceled events, there have been and will be virtual bytes of the real thing to lead you on. There is virtually no way I’m going to do Burning Man virtually. I’m not even going to try. My memories and Covid dreams are better and don’t require a headset. I may change my mind if it is canceled for the next three years.

Will the various absences make my heart grow fonder? I don’t know. I do know I’m not missing professional and college sports as much as I thought I would. However, absinthe, the licorice-flavored green liquor with purported hallucinogenic properties which was a favorite in the first roaring ‘20s (sales are banned in U.S. bars and liquor stores but it’s legal to possess—go figure) could certainly make my heart feel fonder right now. I think I just wrote a new aphorism: Absinthe might not make your heart grow fonder but it will help you forget what you thought you missed. Cut and paste and share with all your friends so that I can become an influencer.

The thing that works for me when I’m pining for the one-year-ago old good times is to recall the bad parts of the good times. I had a lot of crappy times at Burning Man. I remember the smell of port-o-potties in the morning, the rebar wounds, everybody else’s annoying music, the uninvited naked guy, the guy with his camera in your face, those two times I got pink eye from swimming in Pyramid Lake on the way in, that clown thing that ended up in the county court, the flat tires, sunburn, windburn and dust storm burn. Of course, yes, I remember some of the good old days of communal mud baths and widespread anarchy. I remember when founder Larry Harvey was alive.

I read about some study that if you walked around in complete darkness without reference points you’d end up walking in a circle. I don’t know if that is true, but it sure feels like that’s the current reality.

As an unhumorous aside can I say: Can we just stop yelling at each other and pause? People are dying sad normal lonely deaths in the middle of this pandemic and this horrible election. It would be hyperbole of me to say I lost a close friend, but she was a close acquaintance; she died peacefully of pancreatic cancer August 23. Treasure your memories. Good night, Sandy; you always lit up the room.

Dennis Hinkamp suggests you hug the ones you can and virtually hug those you can’t.

This article was originally published on October 8, 2020.