San Francisco Time / UTC Time


2006-08-14

Serendipity Strikes

After a failed attempt to send Kai to school (he looked like he was sick, but was in a fine mood) and some failed attempts at a park visit (he wouldn't let me change into appropriate clothes, and then there was the dirt-in-the-eye fiasco while playing with his trucks), we ended up cleaning out my wife's car. It was the last thing I felt like getting done today, but it was absolutely necessary, as the car stunk of something rotting (diaper? food?). While O.C vacuuming the car, I found a little something that I lost months ago and have been lamenting ever since. I FOUND the "D" scrabble tile that Stevie's parents gave me at Burning Man 2005.

Here is something I wrote about my experiences in meeting Stevie's parents at Burning Man 2005. I wrote this in an email and ended up copying it to several friends, so if you've read this before, please bear with me a moment:

Partial Email, c. October 2005

Burning Man was incredible as always. I performed a total of 9 marriages (I got ordained a few months ago so I could marry Merritt and Nikki in BRC) and served 2 3-hour shifts as Head Guardian Angel (aka "The Voice of the Temple") for the Temple of Dreams. I had an amazing time as Temple Guardian. Most memorable would have to be my meeting with Stevie's parents. Stevie's was a woman who worked for the BRC DPW (Black Rock City Department of Public Works), who was killed shortly after the event last year. She was 22. I never did meet her, but our paths seem to have crossed at least once. She had befriended one of my burning man friends by the name of Blue (Paul). I remember meeting up with him during last years event and we talked about this and that. He mentioned her and how awesome he thought she was. I found out from him later that she'd been killed in a freak car accident not too many miles away from the event. She had stayed several weeks after the event had ended to assist with clean-up. In fact, she was one of the last people off the playa. Her truck and trailer jacknifed from a freak wind and rolled 5 times. In talking to her parents, I came to learn that when her body was returned to them, there wasn't a scratch on her. Trippy. Going back to meeting her parents: 2 hours into my second shift and I was talking to my friend Judy (also my roomate at BM). She had come out to the temple with me at the beginning of my shift to write in her journal and work through some things. I felt a tap on my shoulder and this man and woman asked me if I was Sparky, the Voice. "I am". "We're Stevie's parents. I'm Paula and this is Tim". My mouth dropped open. Literally. That NEVER happens to me... it takes a lot to take me completely by surprise. Then the tears came... like a rain squall in Hana. It was immediate, and I couldn't stop it. The both embraced me immediately and we were all crying within seconds. Now mind you, I had just performed Merritt and Nikki's wedding not 3 hours before (which was a real tear jerker), so I was walking the rougher edges of my emotions. Never-the-less, what I felt for them was totally honest, totally real. It was surreal to be having this connection to these people I'd never met. I should explain though, that ever since I'd learned about Stevie, I'd felt like I'd lost a sister or best friend from a former life. It was weird that I'd never met her. When they told me who they were, my brain put it all together at once, kind of like a switch opening and the tears and emotions were like the electricity flowing through the conduit.

I talked with Paula and Tim for nearly an hour... they are amazing people and I was so honored that they had come and found me. I found out (much to my own chagrin) that my favorite piece of the temple was actually a shrine to Stevie. On one side was a beautiful carved dragonfly and on the other was a phoenix. Paula and Tim were trying to find all the guardian angels and thank them for protecting Stevie's shrine/effigy. They gave me two gifts that I've been carrying with me at all times ever since. The first was a ceramic or femo (not sure which) dragonfly pendant. The second was a scrabble tile with "Miss Stevious" and a tiny Burning Man on the back. More on those in a moment. I learned much more about Stevie that night. She was a bit like Neo in the Matrix movies in that nearly everyone she came in contact with was changed by her; somehow she had this unearthly charisma that just sucked you in. Nearly everyone I've ever talked to that knew her well said that she was like a force of nature. Shortly before Burning Man, she had gone to South Carolina to learn to work with tigers... I guess it turned out that the place was a CULT and they wanted the girls to sleep in the cages with the tigers. Stevie stuck it out for almost 3 days before she said "I'm outta here..." Such a tenacious one. Anyways... they told me all these trippy stories about dragonflies; They were Stevie's favorite creature. I guess one came and sat on Paula's shoulder during Stevie's memorial for nearly 2 hours. Another one came to sit in Stevie's grandmother's chair (right next to paula) at the wake when she got up to go in the kitchen. Also, they had been seeing dragonflies all over the playa... and the next morning I had two buzz RIGHT past me when I was sitting in the shade talking about my experiences with Paula and Tim the night before; it tripped ME out. So the dragonfly pendant has become far more significant to me; I see it as a connection to those gone and a good luck charm. The other gift they gave me was the scrabble tile. "D" is the letter on it... worth 2 points in scrabble. In talking to Paula and Tim, they told me how she was the best scrabble player they'd ever seen. She had like 4 or 5 scrabble sets, and was virtually unbeatable. She also had 5 dictionaries (a woman after my own heart). I wish I could have known her when she was alive.


IMGP0002web
IMGP0003web

While re-reading this I realized that the positive intention was there, but that my own writing tends to be a bit sophomoric when I don't self-edit, at least to my own ears. I'm leaving my previous blunders to stand, as that was how I wrote it and to clean it up now seems dishonest.

Finding the tile changed my whole day. My schedule had been hijacked (not an unusual occurrence when you have a 2 year old child), and there were 5 other projects I would rather have been doing. Truth be told, it would rather have been a lot of other places; I was feeling impatient, tired and irritable. I saw the tile and my heart leapt into my throat. I had almost vacuumed it up, and if I'd been looking just a little less carefully, I might have never found it. I was convinced that it had been thrown away or lost somewhere where I'd never find it. I was able to slow down mentally after finding it and the day has been better ever since.

I feel like Stevie's watching me,and it's a reminder to pay attention to what's important in my life. It always ends without notice, ever notice that? *smirk* I know she's going to be there at Burning Man 2006, if not in her corporeal form, then pervasively in her etherial form.

Here are some beautiful sites dedicated to Stevie.
By Dai Andrews
By [unknown?]
By Taz

A big thanks to Paula and Tim for finding me and giving me so many gifts, the best of which being a small feeling of having known an amazing woman I never met in person.

CURRENT MUSIC: The Pharcyde, Labcabincalifornia, Devil Music

1 comment:

~*~Lei-L@~*~ said...

...and to think what could've happened to that scrabble piece had someone else had to clean that car!

You know, I'm amazed by those dragonflys that came to you and her parents, but at the same time not really all that surprised...I like to think "they" come back in their favorite forms, if not to just say hello and goodbye one last time.

Stevie sounds like an amazing person. In life and in death. May she rest with eternal peace.