Twelve years ago, a beautiful light of a girl caught my eye at Burning Man. I’d seen hula hooping before, even stop-in-your-tracks hooping, but never that. Jazzy Blue Brite is the quintessential picture of my first burn, and burned in my brain.
It was 2007, and I was afraid of the desert. As far as I could see, life was not meant to survive that ancient, desiccated lake bed, so I didn’t drink anything but water. I was dead sober, and Jazzy Blue Brite was the moment that trance entered my being.
We go to Burning Man for an altered state. It doesn’t take long. It permeates that city. But that night, that party, there she was. Magic. Light. Pure beauty.
I was transported, without a drug or a drop in my body.
I found out my campmates had taken me to Ganesh, a camp and artcar from Salt Lake. That makes sense now, but at the time I knew nothing and no one. I had only met the guy I went with a week prior to leaving. Everyone was a stranger.
They’re my own community now, but Jazzy eked out a special place in my heart.
I had been hooping a little that summer with Jeffrey, who had mad skills in his arsenal, but I wanted lessons from her and signed up for a workshop as soon as I got home. I was so intimidated and nervous.
From that 6-wk course and a dozen years of festivals and festy parties, Jazzy and I formed a bond that is so dear to me. We never hung out one-on-one, but every time we saw each other we ran to hug on each other. It was so validating, to know that she was just as excited to see me, every time, as I was to see her. She loved me.
I loved her, too.
Jazzy died on the 4th of January. She had been in an accident almost 10 years ago that took her friend. She was on the back of his moped and sustained serious injuries herself, but it was her heart that never recovered from the loss and survivor’s guilt.
Her carefree partying morphed. We were losing her. She wasn’t as visible on the circuit as she had been. Then again, neither was I. But even I had occasion to see the change, a year and a half ago when she was very intoxicated at an afternoon hoop jam.
In fact, a friend of mine said after we left, “What’s up with Jazzy?”
“Oh, nothing,” I dismissed her. “We’ve all been there.”
Frankly, I thought she was being judgmental. Lord knows I’ve been the most drunk at the party before, and will be again. And most of us have been sloppy, even embarrassing, in the company of sober friends from time to time. Big deal.
I confess I do feel a little guilty about that day. She was so obviously going downhill, I see now. Hindsight.
Anyway, I love her, that sweet Jazzy girl. She’s a great loss, to our community and to me personally. I’m pretty philosophical about these things, but losing her hit me hard. I cried quite a bit. I began to perceive that maybe I’m not so esoteric about life and death as I claimed, but had used that belief to distance myself from the pain of loss.
I feel the loss of Jazzy, in my whole body. I feel a little punched in the gut, and I’m quick to tears about her. I was supposed to see her that afternoon!
She’d been in the hospital for weeks, with organ failure. First, doctors told her family not to expect her to wake up from a medically-induced coma, but she did! Her organs recovered, except for her liver, and she was on the list for transplant.
She had a long road ahead, facing mental health issues and the great heartaches she had drowned, and learning to live sober. Transplant, too, is never guaranteed. Even with the best immediate outcome, her body could reject it anytime.
As a community, we settled into a schedule of taking afternoon shifts, so her sisters could go home to their families. A friend and I were slated for 2pm, and then we got the announcement. She passed peacefully in the morning, surrounded by family.
I had such a strange sensation of grasping for her, just missing her, and feeling simultaneously that I was with her. In that hovering between – especially right when they leave, I imagine – our friends and family must see our closeness to them in thought, love, and intention.
It was quite beautiful, honestly, but very discombobulating. Those of us who were on the roster for the day went to lunch (for hours) instead. I connected with old friends and strangers alike. It was truly one of my happiest days. Everything you can imagine about such a day: Laughing, hugging, sharing stories, holding hands, holding each other.
We’re having a big Celebration of Life on the 27th at Utah Arts Alliance, and the Hoopologists are putting together some choreography in memoriam. They want to include as many as would like to participate. For her, I really really do.
I’m terrified. I haven’t hooped at all since the last time I saw her, and hadn’t much in the years prior. I was never that good at my best. Another situation in life that I plateaued at a few fun tricks, but didn’t want to work for it afterwards. Taurus laziness, if-it-doesn’t-come-easily, familiar pattern…
But I’m doing it. I’m going to rehearsals with girls who intimidate me and I’m performing my part in the background. Think 1980s low-mid-high level aerobics, haha!
Jazzy inspired me 12 years ago and she’s doing it again.
Get up, Christie.
Live fully. Work through the hard parts and DANCE when you get past them!
Jazzy’s family is left with large medical expenses. If you’re in a position to donate and feel moved to do so, please follow the link to GoFundMe. Thank you!
1.15.19 (payday 😉 ) ~ I don’t have much, but I figured 10 bucks every 2 weeks for a couple of months will add up, and it makes me feel great. I loved this girl.
Imagine my delight when I clicked on the donation page and realized that I needed only to up my bi-weekly contribution by $2 to get the grand total to date to my favorite number: 222, plus one for good measure.
2222 We love Jazzy Blue! 🙂 ❤