One of the interactive art pieces at Burning Man is WDYDWYD. Why do you do what you do?
I hadn’t seen Bill in five weeks. A few days before I left for Burning Man was the last time. Then absencia: two weeks of me high in the desert, followed by two weeks of back-to-back weddings that he had. He had made a vacation out of the one in Chicago, texting me how much he loved my windy city.
I don’t have a TV so I watch news clips on CNBC and replays of Dancing with the Stars on my laptop. I didn’t have anywhere to go to watch the debate. I emailed and texted Marc; he wasn’t answering. If it hadn’t been for wishy-washy McCain, I would have purchased tickets to see the live broadcast at the Roxie Theater in the Mission. Before 6pm, I was happily surprised to find several live broadcasts online: CNBC, NYTimes.com.
Almost exactly 18 months ago, I signed up on MySpace to keep any eye on my cousins. I wrote a post back then on how I felt like such a pedophile, I was so much older than everyone on there. My fascination with it quickly dissipated. And now…well…Facebook has taken over the world. But someone from MySpace transitioned into a ‘real’ world friend. He found me on MySpace, commenting on my profile picture of me perched on the edge of a boulder high above Machu Picchu. He had spent the past couple years traveling all over the world including that very same spot. He blogged about his experiences, posting gorgeous photos of sunsets and natives. We emailed back and forth, long and short. He was a burner. I was a burner. We both promised to find each other at our respective camps, but never got around to it. After his travels and Burning Man, he picked up where he left off in San Francisco. We always ended our email communications with a half-hearted intent to meet up. But never really cared to. I’d ask his opinion on places to travel next, what were his favorite spots, were there areas he considered unsafe for women. Ironically, it was while I was traveling that we communicated even more. Long emails would go back and forth. I’d sit at a computer kiosk in Nicaragua, eager to see if he’d responded. He was always so attentive, with long descriptions, detail, and insight. He encouraged me to take my blog writing and get it published…which I loved. No guy had ever said that to me. And back at home, the same thing always happened. We made plans to get together and the plans fell through. No tempers flared. Simply that we never made it out. I figured our friendship would continue to be an online one. One that had moved from continent to continent, MySpace to Facebook, never to be made ‘real.’ I wrote on his Facebook wall, “You are my Snuffaluffagus friend. I’m not sure if you’re real.” He laughed and immediately switched out his profile picture for a big brown Sesame Street Snuffy.