From the inside of the 11:00am Northeast Regional it looks warm outside. I can guarantee you that it is not, and that the further north we go, the colder it is going to get. I still haven’t quite come to terms with whatever I’ll be stepping off into in Boston.
There’s a woman named Maria that I am about to send a text message to. She lives in Boston. We met at Burning Man this summer. She was camping in the camp that hosts the “bootie black rock city” party, which happened to be next to a camp called “The Star Cats” that many of my friends camp in. Maria had a friend at the camp, a 48 year old looking guy with pink hair, strappy leather work gear, and a big exposed belly. It was his birthday that day. The camp mates ran out into the middle of the clearing by the camp and held up balloons that read:
“Happy Fucking Birthday”
Maria organized it. She stood there and snapped the photo. It was my birthday too, and I told the pink haired man that. “It’s a blessing and a curse,” he said, “to have your birthday during the burn. It’s kind of like having your birthday on Christmas.” My mom’s birthday is on Christmas day.
A few month after Burning Man I was walking down Ames St. in Cambridge with my bag fully packed, er route to NYC. I saw an awkwardly parked U-Haul van and a woman in black utility boots was standing on the sidewalk evaluating it’s placement.
“Hey,” I said, “I know you. We met at burning man right?”
“Oh yeah,” said Maria, “Nice to see you.”
We hugged and then had a conversation about what she was doing in Cambridge. We added each other on facebook, zero mutual friends, then I left to go get some dumplings.
Sitting at the counter waiting for my veggie dumplings, I looked at Maria’s facebook. It was her birthday that day. I felt bad missing a chance to tell her happy birthday, especially since she had unwittingly delivered an enthusiastic birthday message on mine.
After eating I ducked into a bank that looked like they were setting up to have some kind of party with a cake. “We just launched our new branding,” the clerk explained. The new logo updated their font from a gothic calligraphic script (think “New York Times” logo) to something a bit closer to Helvetica.
“Do you have any printer paper I could borrow?” I asked the clerk.
I took a sharpie out of my bag, and drew a happy birthday note on the sheet of paper, then walked back to the U-Haul and stuck it behind the windshield wiper. There was something else in the windshield wiper too - a parking ticket.
That was the last time I spoke with Maria, but I’m going to message her again right now.
. . .
Three days later now I’m on the train again, this time facing backwards as I get hauled from Boston to Providence. Wet and nippy out. Dark.
As for things with Maria, we got drinks at the Independent in Somerville. We smiled at one another. I was a little late, she was a little later. She had spectacular hair. Two beers in I learned that she loves motorcycles and recently started dating someone who rides one.
“We’ve been friends for a long time.”
She did connect me to the 48 year old looking guy with pink hair. It turns out that his name is Sean and he’s probably 31. We had a 10:30am call and I took it from a nook in the wall of 4th West, an MIT dorm with graffiti on the walls and sticky carpet floor.
"I'll send you the form, fill it out and if you can make it up to Boston 3 or 4 times you can join our camp."