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My Trip to the Costco Soulmate Trading Outlet

While there are many hundreds of camps offering a near-endless variety of experiences, gifts, fun, food, art and adventure at Burning Man, there are certain camps that are legendary. The Costco Soulmate Trading Camp–Co(stco) S(oulmate) T(rading) O(utlet) camp, or Costco as it is lovingly and facetiously called for short–is one of them.

In the five prior years I’d attended Burning Man, I had never once felt a pull to visit.

I’d heard of the camp, of course, and I had known many people who sought them out, participated in their offering and told fun stories afterward, but their camp and their offering were, to me, simply one of many.

I knew the basics of how they operated from hearing a number of people tell stories about them: You go in, fill out a questionnaire (the questions vary and range from the serious to the ridiculous), get interviewed and then within a few hours, the soulmate trading professionals connect you with the person they deem your soulmate.

They’re very clear it’s not a dating service they offer, and, for example, a married older woman might be connected with an 8-year-old boy. Or a gay guy with a straight woman. Also, you get two soulmates: one you can follow up with and one who can follow up with you.

In any case, I was always of the “eh” attitude toward the camp and the activity. Not against it, just not itching to get there.


But this one year I was at Burning Man and camping with Pink Heart, I was out with two first-timers for a day-time bike ride and adventure. It was toward the end of the week and the close of the event.

We were mostly meandering and discovering fun things to see and do along the way, including getting our photo taken together at the Burning Man Yearbook Project, when one of our trio said he wanted to go to Costco and find his soulmate, but he didn’t know where they were located.

None of us were carrying the What-Where-When booklet which lists theme camps, addresses and events, but we figured the camp was well known and others might know where it is and point us in the right direction.

Right as we were considering asking some people for some directions to the soulmate trading outlet, I turned my head and saw the Costco camp sign about a half a block away.

It was a sign, and it was a sign; so we went in. I figured, well, I’m here and that was a sign: I might as well participate. So I did. I filled out the questionnaire then waited for my interview slot to open, hanging out in the camp’s welcoming lounge space with my friends and others as I did.

tell me

I went into the interview with a cavalier, kinda “whatever” attitude. I wasn’t expecting much of anything except shenanigans and silliness. I mean, I was at the Costco Soulmate Trading Outlet, of all places. What could I expect?

Except I was utterly surprised at how open, raw, emotional, honest, deep and genuine the conversation with my interviewer was. Parts of me I hadn’t acknowledged or allowed to surface came up. Long-buried desires and dreams rose, and I spoke words I needed to speak, but to whom I had known not to say them.

Then my interviewer did something unconsciously. Her body did something interesting–fascinating–that I’d never seen a human body do before. While I spoke and told her what I wanted in a soulmate, her eyes fluttered upward and rapidly. And repeatedly. I’d speak, and her eyes would flutter. I’d stop, and they’d stop. In whatever odd and wonderful confluence of moments and experiences, I felt my words and message had been heard, seen, felt and shared with the Universe.

She told me she’d give my application special consideration and talk things over with some of her campmates. She asked me to come back in a couple of hours, so once our trio had all had completed our interviews, we left and meandered about some more.

When I returned I was given one person’s name, camp and address. I followed up later and visited his camp. He was tall, good-looking, in his mid-20s and partnered with a woman. We chatted briefly and that was it.

Later that evening, someone (Tower) came by camp and left this note in our camp’s “in box” for messages.

I forget how, but somehow I knew he was camping with the Costco group, so I stopped by that evening to say “hi.” They were about to sit down for their camp meal, so our conversation was brief but sweet. He was also tall (aptly named Tower), also good-looking, also in his mid-20s, bisexual and like my other soulmate, also partnered. Not that the Costco people were trying to break up existing relationships or set people up with dates, per se. Their gift was about connections, alignment and balance. Or maybe it was just a bunch of random and silly match-ups.

But while I hadn’t held out hope for any actual match, and clearly I wasn’t a dating match for either of these men, the interview and experience was, for me, the gift. I had. been given the opportunity to speak, unabashedly and without reservation about my dreams and desires. And I took it!

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all!

May we all find our soulmate at a Costco or wherever.


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