We fell out into the dusty, spirited streets that night ushered by a massive band of believers. One man, eyes full of truth reached out his hand to me on Palace Avenue. He had children in tow, wearing glow-in-the dark necklaces and their voices were a sweet sing-song volley. My thoughts were gauzy, for I had been swimming in gin. The city center was animated and dense and we were mobbed by the energy of a thousand ghosts.
This is the wild of the west. These warm bodies welcomed us on impulse to join the collective and come out reborn and we felt helpless to resist. We were clouded but vibrant, we would follow as a curious witness.
After miles of navigating twists and turns, we came upon a clearing and were able to take in the infinite sea of a hundred-thousand people. We wove our way through the maze of families on the ground and on their feet, a prairie of picnic blankets, endless pairs of kissing lovers and traffic cops.
I was breathless, over-stimulated, fevered and anxious.
It is here that strangers said over and over again that we should leave all that ails, all that hurts and aches, all the gloom, all we regret, for here our woes will burn in a pyre of flames 100 feet tall. The tension was building as we grew impatient for the darkness which proceeds the burning of this bogeyman. In a frantic fury an army of torchbearers circle the marionette, to the beat of a million drums, dancers in sequined headdress, come the fireworks and finally the promised flames.
Old man gloom goes up in a bonfire like nothing I’ve ever seen, he raises his arms to the sky, he fights and screams. I can still feel the heat on my face, the exotic shock of a 91 year old tradition now mine.
You’ve been listening to True Love Knows by The Changing Colors