I am alone.
6,000 miles from home.
A tropical island.
I had my first socially nude experience about as far away as I could get from people who knew me. I was alone on Little Beach on Maui, surrounded by people much more comfortable about the situation than I. I had been anxious, at once with anticipation, but also concerned that someone I know might see me.
Stop. Right. There.
If you’re on a nude beach and you see someone you know, you are among kindred spirits. It is quite likely that they didn’t just stumble over a ginormous lava flow and have their clothes blow off themselves in a gust of wind. So, if they see you, you are also seeing them. Enjoy the fact that you know someone who is a nudist.
But, that was not remotely where my mind was that day.
For me, it was a momentous occasion. A childhood of sneaking around and finding time alone at the house. Of being embarassed because I wasn’t aware that there was a whole community of people out there like me. Of assuming I was weird or odd or worse.
We’re all weird, I can say now, of course. In our own way, that is. We all have something about us that someone isn’t going to like. Or that someone will ridicule. Or lord over your head before you’re ready to share that part of yourself.
So, there I was. Looking around. The Pacific Ocean. The perfect weather. The warm breeze. The SPF 50 slathered all over me. Just have to drop trou and take the shirt off. Any moment now.
Other people were just so casual. So at ease with themselves, settling into their spot, and prepping so matter-of-factly. I was in an area where my standing there clothed made me the oddball. The one who was different from everyone around me. And so, with a deep breath of anticipation, I finally crossed that imaginary line that I’d been waiting years to step over. One small step for man. One giant leap for me.
And there I was. Settled on my blanket. Nose in a book.
Alone among my people.
6,000 miles away.