Post Burning Man Post

So sometime around last Thursday, the ability for my brain to process what was going on completely halted. I know many of you were watching our escapades closely, and I apologize for the delay in completing our journey accurately.

We did make it to the Temple of Promise for sunrise. The expected chanting did not occur, but it was still a powerful moment.

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Afterwards, my dad set off to deep playa to take photos of the less official artwork, my mom headed back to the RV, and I took one last journey through the spiral of the temple in an effort to release all the things I brought with me that needed to be released. My dad’s illness. My failed relationships. Toxic people. It was crowded, I slowly made my way through, found my bike, and rode away like a warrior. That was my last visit to the temple, and oddly, I did not need to see it burn as I expected. The fact that it burned on Sunday was enough.

Later that morning we headed to the other side of town. My parents talked to god.

 

 

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They also sat in a swing.

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And ate some pancakes

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A storm was brewing – the weather was expected to be quite gusty, and we wanted to get back before getting caught in another white out.

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Thursday night I had to work as Temple Guardian again, and again it was a great experience. I met a couple from Illinois who offered to cuddle with me while we watched the music, because it was freakishly cold. That night it got down to 37 degrees and I made my mom turn on the heater.

I don’t have many photos from Friday. I ran around town on my own, meeting people, dancing, drinking weird punch from my dusty cup. That afternoon, we were trapped in our RV for a few hours. The dust and wind were crazy. My dad edited photos, I drew, my mom did puzzles. We could watch the people go by on the street, but it was strangely quiet. And it was the only time I felt a little grouchy.

My parents were working Friday night, which was the biggest night for Sacred Spaces. Apparently somewhere in the realm of 5,000 people were expected on our smallish dance floor. I planned to go out that night, but it was chilly and I was tired. I ended up through all the parties.

I’m realizing this blog series feels anticlimactic. We are now at Saturday, the day of the burn, the day all the weekenders have showed up and the city is at full capacity. Black Rock City becomes the second largest city in all of Nevada, maybe just for this one night. It will sound weird if you haven’t been, but I could have easily left before the man burned and been completely satisfied with my experience.

That being said, I’m glad I didn’t miss it.

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I sat on the ground, about four rows back at around 1:30 (on the map). I was surrounded by people I did not know. The members of the fire enclave performed after the man raised his arms.

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The fireworks were like none I’ve ever seen. When my dad finishes editing his photos, I will post a link here. He captured the burn itself quite magnificently.

We got up Sunday morning and worked in the kitchen, helped break down camp, said our goodbyes. Initially we planned to stay through the temple burn at 8 p.m., but with all the driving we had to do, we decided to leave earlier. The drive that took us 14 hours the previous Sunday only took 7, and we were showered and in bed by 10 or so that night. I only had to wash my hair four times to get most of the dust out.

People keep asking me if I had fun at Burning Man. Well, yes. I had fun. I saw things that blew my mind. I spent time with my parents in a way you don’t often get to do once you are a grown up. I met people in a way I would never meet people in the real world. I laughed more than I remember laughing, I felt magic like I’ve never known. I was also fortunate enough to save my complete emotional breakdown for after I got home but before my boys came back to stay with me. Perfect timing.

Thank you all, again, for watching our journey. I have told you about 1% of what happened to us there. And we saw about 1% of what went on. I’ll be going next year….until then:

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What day is it again?

As the city continues to grow, internet becomes a precious commodity. I have not been able to get connected all day on WiFi and only sporadically on cellular.

We made it back from our dust adventure from my last post – I’m honestly having trouble determining if that was yesterday. It was the 1st of September according to my computer, and today must be the 3rd, although it is 2:30 in the morning as I type this. Time does not really exist here as fluidly as it does in the default world.

Tuesday night/morning I had to work a shift in camp called Temple Guardian. In the day, Sacred Spaces offers workshops and yoga classes, and at night it turns into a stage and dance floor. The Temple Guardian’s job is to make sure everything is safe and respectful at all times, to keep the temple’s clean, and generally be the adult in the room during the party. I reported at 1:30 a.m., dressed in white, and patrolled the perimeter of the camp. I expected drunken mayhem, and was shocked at the level of respect people paid to our space.

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This guy was parked outside. The Art Car seems to be the way to get around town. Far easier than all this pedaling.

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We had fire dancers show up.

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And this cool screen that created laser images of the dancers

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My shift was three hours long and it went by quickly. It was interesting to be completely sober during a dance party in the middle of the night. One guy walked up to me and said “You look like you need a hug.” We hugged, he exuded alcohol from his skin, and I asked his name. “They call me Tree.” And then he was gone, back on the dance floor.

After a nap and a snack, we set out to try and find two sets of people. Finding people in Black Rock City is nearly impossible. You basically go to their camp and ask around for them. If they happen to be there and someone happens to know them, you might find them. We needed to make it to Pink Heart, where the magically people live who found me a spare ticket and recommended us to Sacred Spaces. (You have to apply to be a part of this camp, and know someone who can recommend you.) Our people were not around, but we loaded up on some delightful cucumber water and took a photo under the heart.

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We also got to meet the famous Halcyon, who makes wonderful videos about how to prep for Burning Man. I was happy to personally thank him for creating this for the community. What a gift.

Since my friends weren’t there (never fear, I went back later in the day and met them all. Such joy.), we tried to track down Snow Queen and King, who you might remember we met in line however many days ago we were in line. We found their camp, asked around, and were finally directed to their tent, where they were happily sleeping. My dad – no surprise – stood outside the tent and called their names. Snow Queen made an appearance shortly thereafter, and we were reunited with our roadside friend.

People who come here frequently tend to have rituals. They always get grilled cheese at 3, or make sure they hit the carcass wash by 5. Snow Queen goes to the Lavender Lounge each morning, where they offer scalp massages and spritzing with lavender water. Your eyes are covered with a mask, so the sensory experience is heightened. Quite refreshing out here in the dust.

As we were walking back, we met QuPid, one of the many men who created a reenactment of the Trojan War a few years back.

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He even let us all try on his helmet.

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I found a sign that accurately described my sentiment from the morning

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And so did my dad.

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It was getting quite dusty, and we didn’t want to be late for brunch. We said goodbye to the magical Snow Queen and headed back through another storm to eat. The food in our camp is absolutely delicious, and we eat twice a day with our community. I have quite enjoyed this gathering time to hear what everyone is up to throughout the day. Every single person is having a unique experience here. My experience is not even the same as my parents, and we are living ten feet away.

I decided to venture out on my own in the afternoon after a short nap. I did not take my phone, so you’ll have to imagine my adventure. I was finally able to connect with my friends at Pink Heart and thank them for the gift they have given my family. I then parked my bike and walked around the neighborhood a bit, empty cup in hand, drinking libations from various camps along the way. I climbed to the top of a 5 story tower in the middle of a dust storm, and sat at the top while the structure swayed in the wind. After a few hours I headed home, through another huge dust storm across the playa. When I returned, I was completely covered – this is my leg, and you can see where my socks were quite clearly

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And a photo inside the RV – the winds were blowing up to 25 miles an hour today, and keeping the dust out became an impossibility.

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Right now it is eerily quiet. It’s a bit after 3 in the morning, and soon we will be heading out to the main temple to participate in a ceremony called the White Party. We will gather at the temple at sunrise, and hold in a circle and chant OM, setting an intention for peace and love in the world. Someone is measuring the frequency of the energy created by this collective. I’m hoping we get to hitch a ride on our camp art car, as the ride out to the temple is long and the wind hasn’t died down all that much.

I will try to post again tomorrow night. I have a temple shift again at 1:30, and Friday begins a lot of the burning of various structures. The man himself will burn on Saturday night. I only have a vague grasp of these times. I know there are a few events I don’t want to miss, but it is completely impossible to see and do everything. I am bathed in amazement.

Sending you all our love and positive energy this morning. Thank you for the gifts you bring to our lives back in the default world – we are all quite grateful.

A note about dust

From the photos, one might imagine Burning Man is a dirty place. This dust does not feel dirty. Quite the opposite, it seems to draw the oils – and all other moisture – out of your hair and skin. I may come home with dreadlocks, as every time I try to brush my hair I find more tangles that are matting together.

The magical opening ceremony for Sacred Spaces started somewhere around 7:30. People gathered, drank coffee, milled about. Someone even vacuumed a bit. So did my mom for a bit – I think my dad took that picture.

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I didn’t take any photos of the ceremony itself, as we were busy participating. We meditated and blessed the space, and walked the perimeter of our camp with sage. Peaceful, healing, powerful energy surrounded everyone. Beautiful.

This is one of the sails that decorates the main stage.

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After filling ourselves with love and light, we set out to the playa for a bike tour, highlighting some of the art pieces that received funding from the festival.

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Medusa. Kind of my hero.

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Before we started, before the storm hit.

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Things are getting dusty in the background here, next to a sculpture of a rattlesnake.

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A little more clear near the squid. This piece has handles on the sides that participants can operate to move the tentacles.

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Part of three pieces, all cast out of bronze. I cannot imagine how much they weigh.

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For those of my dad’s Scout family who are reading, the above photo represents the gold thing. For those who aren’t, touching the gold thing is a sense of completion. I believe it comes from the gold thing in the rocks on the top of Squaw Peak. If you only climb halfway, you can’t touch the gold thing, therefore you did not go.

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We learned more about this sculpture today, before the tour was cancelled due to white out conditions. She is called Our Evolution. I think. And at parts of the day she moves, and sometimes breaths.

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The temple, in a growing storm.

We went inside together, we each wrote something on the walls, my mom and I cried a bit. Which isn’t a great idea when you’re wearing fake eyelashes in a dust storm.

Shortly after this photo, the entire playa was engulfed in dust. We attempted to keep up with our group as we rode headlong into the wind. One of the more surreal moments of my life, I pedaled forward, only guessing on the direction. I walked my bike a bit, and when forms began to appear out of the haze, my mother walked towards me. It is an image I will keep in my head from this journey. My mom coming back for me during the storm, even as she struggled herself.

We are mostly dusted off, fed, rested, and ready to go experience some more.

Thank you all for your comments, and for reading along. We are blessed to have you all in our lives.

Opening Day at Sacred Spaces

This morning our camp opens to the public. Sacred Spaces offers workshops and yoga throughout the day. I don’t have much time to post, we are off to meditate and bless our camp. But I was able to upload a few photos this morning.

In the background you can see our main stage. This is made out of painted lycra sails attached to a center pole.

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A few hexayurts are in our camp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A view down 4 o’clock, looking out toward the man. It is a beautiful morning here. 50 degrees and breezy.

 

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Looking down Geek, you can see the moon above the mountain.

 

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An art car passing by yesterday afternoon.

 

 

 

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And one last night.

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Must run. Sending you all positive energy and love from the playa. We are surrounded by incredible people and are all grateful to be here.

A Quick Photo Tour of The Playa

We woke this morning to the full moon setting outside our front door, and sleepy village of tents. We live right on the Southeast corner of 4 o’clock and Geek, if you try to find us. We are the obnoxious ones in the branded RV – a blatant violation of the decomodification principle. I feel like I want to walk around to everyone and explain why we didn’t cover up our logos. You see, my dad feels concern for the paint, and tape melts in the sun. I suggested using contact paper, but he didn’t like that idea either.

While Burners aspire to practice radical inclusion, there maintains an element of snobbery. This place seeks to develop a temporary community, and communities create diversity, which easily slides into “us” vs. “them’ if continued unchecked. Fortunately our fellow Dust Ninjas don’t openly raise eyebrows at us, and we feel nothing but welcome and happy in our new home.

My parents traded work shifts with some ladies who were scheduled to work but needed to finish building the Sacred Spaces Temple. I set out on my own to take a few pictures of what is happening out here, while people continue to build and create some of the most amazing art I’ve ever seen. I rode clockwise around the Esplanade, stopping at 6 o’clock to take this photo of The Man.

Burning Man from 6 o'clock

 

It’s around 9 in the morning in this photo, and you can see not overly busy with traffic. Many travelers were delayed on the way in yesterday, and I imagine they were sleeping.

As I made my way around, this guy greeted me.

Playa Robot

 

A rhino car parked in the 6 o’clock keyhole.

Rhino Car

 

The city, still feels young. Building continues at various paces, campers roll in from the gate, and the energy of anticipation seeps up out of the dust. I headed out to The Temple of Promise.

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I will have more photos from my big camera to post when we get home, and likely much more to say about this experience. For those of you unfamiliar, a temple is created at the 12 o’clock of the playa each year. Burners write on the walls, hang pictures and mementos. There are a few boxes of ashes, many notes of regret and sadness, many of love and joy. Plenty of bare space remains to filled by the arriving community.

On Sunday night, this will be burned. I am here for many reasons, but this event holds the most allure for me. The intentions of love, celebration, disappointment, and fear of 70,000 people up in flames. I hear there are many people who leave Sunday morning. I’m sad for them.

From the temple, I headed to what people were calling The Woman.

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Directly behind me was a man doing yoga in the dirt, no mat, no clothes. I know many people are curious about the levels of nudity here, and there certainly is some. So far no one has been harmed by seeing breasts and penises, nor have then been forced to remove any clothing.

After the burn I will have many more photos, I promise. They do take a while to upload, so most posts won’t have this many. I also find myself forgetting to take pictures because I am full of awe.

Now I’m sitting here at our dining room table with my mom, while she comments on those driving down 4 o’clock. There are fun outfits, cars full of people and music, bikes covered with fur.

“Oh that woman needs sunscreen. Or is that a man?”

I looked where she was pointing.

“I’m not certain.” I said

“I think I should just go stand out there and spray people as they go by. They are all getting burned.”

“That would be a good gift.”

Thank you all for reading and commenting. I am inspired here in the midst of artists and healers and dancers and forces of life.

Be here now.

Temple wall

The Playa Will Provide

After twelve hours of driving yesterday, we arrived in Hawthorne and checked in to the loveliest little place called America’s Best Inn. My parents slept in the room and I was alone in the RV, rocking in the wind, listening to the sound of people coming and going. I woke with excitement and peace. All the work is done, all the hard driving is over, it’s time to go play in the desert. I’m proud of my mom for being here – this is not her idea of a great way to spend a week. But here she is, goggles and dust mask in hand, ready for adventure. And even smiling.

I have traveled all kinds of crazy places with my parents. I was in a boat on Apache Lake when I was 12 days old. We camped on the beach in Rocky Point when I was 6. We canoed the Panama Canal the summer before 8th grade. When I was 15, we all went to Ecuador so my dad and brother could climb Cotapoxi(sp? too tired to look it up).  It has been many years since our last adventure together….and today I feel like this is the biggest adventure ever and it hasn’t really started.

This morning we got up and ready, thinking we would have some breakfast and head to the gate. The drive should take 3 hours or so, and then the line about 5. As I type this, we have been driving for nearly 12 hours and haven’t yet hit the dirt road that marks the entrance. Part of this is our fault, as we got out of town and realized we forgot to fill up the RV with gas.

What? My parents are the most prepared and conscientious travelers I know. They don’t forget the important things. My mom did forget her dry shampoo and dish soap, and she’s pretty mad about it, but that is a minor discomfort compared with the possibility of being stranded in a 30 foot RV somewhere in the middle of Nevada.

We consulted Google Maps, trying to determine if we had enough gas to go forward, or if we needed to turn around. The dashboard alert said we could go 50 more miles. We were about 18 miles outside of Hawthorne, from whence we came, and 51 to the next town with a guaranteed gas station. We opted to turn back.

After filling up, getting coffee and tea, and making our way once again, we found there was an open gas station about ten miles from where we were stopped. Thanks Google Maps for not showing that important station on your list. Super helpful.

We motored along quite happily for quite some time, stopping at the Loves in Fernly for some last minute snacks and ice. In the ladies room, a gaggle of young ladies were busily dying their hair in the sink. The parking lot was packed with every type of vehicle imaginable, all clearly headed for Black Rock City.

Right outside of town traffic stopped completely. No one knew why, we just all sat, in park, engines off. An ambulance went by, headed the other direction. Police cars sped down the access road below. People got out of their cars, and we met several of our neighbors. Eric from San Francisco was ahead of us with a stack of wood on his truck that was intended to build a yurt with a 30 foot diameter on the ground floor and a second floor for dancing. He is camping in Yurtopia. At our second long stop, he busted out the generator and speaker, for everyone’s enjoyment.

Then we met Pamela and Tony, in the car behind us. They met at Burning Man 7 years ago when Tony created a small but important theme camp called Bacon and Beethoven. Three years ago they built their own temple on the playa and were married here. And so they return every year to celebrate their anniversary. They could not be more adorable and fun, and we spent a great deal of time chatting with them.

On our final stop, while sitting in the shade of our giant RV, we met Jerod, who arrived from St. Thomas. This is is second burn, and he was searching for a better playa name. I was explaining to him where we are camping and how we have camp duties that I am anxious about my ability to fulfill. The most difficult being a requirement that I guard our temple from 1:30 am to 4:30 am Tuesday and Wednesday, and I must wear all white. My white outfits look sad and uninteresting in this backdrop of sensory overload.

The solution? Jerod has a white priest robe I can borrow. I must arrive at his camp on Monday to procure the robe, and offer my unending worship of him, but only when he is present. Perfect. The Playa Will Provide….

Sweet Caroline. It’s nearly one a.m. I’m so tired I cannot see straight, nor type. We made it through the long process of getting here. We arrived at our camp quite late, got parked and signed in, we met Curtis our Grove Leader who is also a Ranger. I took off on my bike just to get my bearings and be away from this tiny box we will call home for the next week, and I lasted all of twenty minutes out there.

I know it is my job to write about what I see and experience, and make more sense of the world. Maybe someday I will be successful at my job. Right now, I can just tell you this. If you have not been to Burning Man, I may never be able to describe it to you, and I’ve only just arrived. Here he is, the man we will burn on Saturday.

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I have now met him in person. I have made dust angels with many other Burning Man Virgins. I have arrived at the place where everyone greets you with a hug, the music plays all night, there is love and peace and dancing. I will never in a million years be able to convey what is happening here – I have already left out enough to fill ten novels. Trust me when I tell you, you wish you were here.

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Tickets, please?

Apparently, it used to be easy to get tickets to Burning Man. Like, you just went to the site and paid your money, and they mailed you a ticket. It does not work that way in 2015. It still amazes me that we obtained three coveted tickets and a vehicle pass that will allow us to move to Black Rock City tomorrow with 70,000 of our closest friends.

Back in February I was completely overwhelmed with the idea of pulling off this trip. I had just moved into a new house, my job was horrible and stressful, and I was newly on my own again. I am the type of person to get overwhelmed by the big picture, so the small steps seem impossible. On February 13 I was telling my stories to my new friend W. It came up that my dad wanted to go, but I was not so sure it was a good idea under the circumstances. W, who has since become the person in my life who can ask a single question and solve all of my problems, wisely said: “How could you not try?”

I contacted my parents, as we had to register for the ticket sale by noon on Valentine’s Day. I created Burner Profiles for all three of us, and made sure my parents knew where to find their personal link. The following Wednesday, we all clicked our links simultaneously at noon to get in “line”. Forty thousand tickets were available, and we patiently watched as a little man walked slowly across the screen, indicating how long it would be until we could check out. My mom is the only one of of us who made it through, and she purchased two tickets and a vehicle pass. The sale ended 45 minutes later, shutting out many veteran burners, and lots of hopefuls….like me.

With two tickets, it was clear my parents were going. It was not clear about me. We briefly researched how to stow me away, which didn’t seem like a grand plan. As my parents prepared, I realized it might not be my year. I might be left home, while they went dancing in the dust. And then another new friend J came to the rescue. He saw my post on Facebook that we were still in need, and posted a note to his Pink Heart Theme Camp group. Supernova came through for us with the final ticket, a little over a month ago.

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My other new friend, E, who has nothing to do with any of this other than the fact she has to sit next to me and listen to me talk incessantly about my plans, can attest to the fact that I got teary-eyed when the message came through that I was getting a ticket. Relief and excitement and panic and joy!

If tickets are so tough to get, you might wonder why there isn’t a great scalping market like there is for a Madonna concert. Remember when I mentioned the Ten Principle of Burning Man? Decomodification isn’t just for the event, it is a part of the culture throughout the year. And earning money off of a transaction such as scalping a ticket goes directly against this culture. Could Supernova have charged us an extra hundred dollars, or even more? She likely could have financed a good part of her costume wardrobe with a moderate upcharge. Instead, I sent her money for the ticket and shipping, and nothing more.

This phenomenon is fascinating to me. It rubs against American cultural norms and the ingrained beliefs that capitalism is the best and most efficient way to run a society. It appears my fellow burners are seeking to change this opinion, one event at a time.

You might notice a theme here today, as I type this from the dining table of our RV rattling across the Sonoran Desert. For me, this is the year of new people coming in to my life in mysterious and important ways. I have been surprised by generosity, love, kindness, and true friendship from people who have shown up out of the ether. It’s magic. While our physical journey begins today, for me it started long ago, when I asked the universe for an adventure and the incredibly people who might come along with it.

In the perfect words of Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers…..

Alone, adrift, together are we, slowly sinking in a deep blue sea. We smile and we wave, we say I’m afraid, and I love you.

Here we go!

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