Sooooo, Jason and I went to the beach.
Um, yeah, which really isn't that big of a deal, and not really something worth talking about, except this was a beach where clothing was optional.
I have no problem with nudity. There's a lot of it at Burning Man for example. It just kind of is what it is. And I hear there's this thing called pornography or something, and looking at naked people in that way doesn't bother me either. Ladies naked in the gym changing room? No big deal. (Except for a) when I was a kid and thought older women were terrifying because they were so WRINKLY AND HAIRY!!!! and b) when ladies go into the toilet stall naked
because I ... have no idea, it just weirds me out! anyway...)
So I knew when Jason suggested it that it wasn't going to be an issue of seeing naked people. Been there, done that... it was going to be an issue of ME being naked.
I really didn't know if I wanted to go. At all.
And if I went? I really didn't think I wanted to be naked in front of people. I told Jason this and he sort of tentatively said that he figured that would be ok. That were I a single man sitting there still wearing clothes I would be spoken to (hi, you seem to be just here to look, and that's creepy?) but that maybe as a girl I would be ok, and so I guess I sort of figured that I would go and just... kind of hang out in my bikini in a corner of the beach far from everyone else and no one would notice me at all anyway.
And I sort of thought well, there will be enough beach space that maybe I can take my top off if it's just going to be Jason and I and I'll just, you know, lie on my stomach with, like a sarong nearby in case someone came by.
So I figured I had a plan to make it work... sort of?
But I was nervous. I'm not sure I had much to say for most of the drive there, I was certainly out of sorts enough for Jason to say "are you nervous?" and when I nodded "yeah, I can tell, but don't be, you'll be fine."
I tried to explain that I don't like going into things that I don't know about, and that I'm uncomfortable when I don't know how I'm "supposed" to act (the known social expectations of places like this that "outsiders" don't know) and he just assured me it'd be fine.
But still. Nervous.
We got there, blew up the floaty devices and headed down to the beach. Which was... so much tinier than I'd expected. (First moment where my mind kind of exploded.) The only other nude beach I've ever seen in my life was on Maui and it was miles long. Miles and miles long. Secluded. Tons of space, few people. This was more of a ... I don't even know. Just not what my brain had pictured. Not what I had been mentally preparing myself for. No place to hide.
We put our stuff in the one shady spot (my skin doesn't do sun, it just turns red and sore!) and Jason stripped off. I stripped down to my bikini, and sat there.
And sat there.
And sat there.
I didn't know what to do.
It was this strange experience of not quite peer pressure, but just seeing everyone else all nude (with hats, which, when you think about it is a great image... I'm not worried about sun on my bits and bobs, but I'd better keep my face in shade!) and people would come down to the beach and just strip off and I just sort of felt like an idiot sitting there with clothes still on.
I'm not sure I'm explaining it right, I just didn't know what to do. Didn't want to be naked, but it seemed somehow wrong to sit there with clothes on. Thoughtless? I'm not sure. Still trying to wrap my brain around what that feeling was.
When you're the only one not doing something, in a space that people value precisely because they can be free to do that one thing there? It felt disrespectful.
Or at least, like I was really weird.
If I had been able to crawl directly into myself I would have. I was uncomfortable.
I told Jason that I would feel more ok taking my bottoms off than my top and that I thought that was weird. Thinking about it now, I wonder if it's because it's easy to hide your naked bottom when you're sitting on it... duh. But anyway, I did. Take of my bottoms. In public.
And, I mean, really, was I doing it because I wanted to be naked? No. I was doing it because I felt like I should. Or "had to" for some reason. And maybe that was all in my head, but it is what it is.
I sat and tried to calm myself, well, had been doing that since we got there, but actively tried to just tell myself to chill. Relax. Deal with all these FEELINGS!!!!! later. Just... you're here now... what are you going to do.
So after sitting there with my bottoms off for another while I felt uncomfortable enough at still being half clothed that I threw myself face down on the blanket and took of my top.
Was I comfortable and relaxed? Hell no.
Was I enjoying myself?
See, I'm not a naked person particularly. Sure, I love being naked in bed, and I have no issue with being naked per se, but I don't wander around my house naked, I love to have my bra and undies off, but I'll wear a sarong or something. PJs. Whatever. Is that partly because I have my windows open and neighbours who can see in? Yes. But I guess I'm just saying that being naked in front of other people is never something that's been on my bucket list.
I know some of the philosophy behind nudists. Nudism? Whatever the proper term is and I'm cool and love the idea that the naked body is just the naked body and it's no big deal. That when we all strip down to nothing, there's nothing left to get in the way. Burning Man was awesome for that. Hey, I'm just some guy sitting here talking to you with my junk hanging out. Cool, I'm just some chick wandering around with a kilt and my boobies bouncing around. No big deal. Just bodies. Just skin. (Sure, maybe Burning Man there's an aspect of sexuality to it, but I'm not even going to touch on that right now, let's save that for another time.)
So there I am, naked but hiding, basically. And still not comfortable.
But I'm also trying to just let it be. I don't know... just... deal. No one there cared. No one was staring.
People would wander over to chat with Jason and no one would glance at anything other than your face. (Which, again, is different from the creepy guys I saw at Burning Man who would sit and clearly be staring at the naked chicks, but again, story for another day.)
At some point I guess I decided to just try sitting up.
And then I realized I wanted to head out on to the water because then it would be just us for a while and I wouldn't care that I was naked anymore because Jason's already seen me naked, so we paddled out a bit and hung out in the water naked. Which was awesome. Until I remembered that my boobies (yes I'd sunscreened... everywhere!) had never seen sun before and I should really get them in the shade before I got a nasty burn. (I would rather be overly cautious than end up with nasty owie burns.)
Anyway, I could go on and on about the details of all this but as the time went on I relaxed a bit, or let go a bit or whatever and eventually the sun shifted and I got warm enough on the blanket to get up and walk (naked) into the water to swim.
That, by the way, was lovely. Not terribly warm, but I went in slowly (and again, because this wasn't a "normal" beach, no one stared, no one cared. (Or if they looked, they were subtle about it, polite. Because I mean did I look at people's bodies? Yes. Did I judge? No. Naked bodies are just kind of... shrug.)
So I swam and floated and got out and dried off and then swam again and my biggest worry at this point was trying to not burn so I kept trying to cover things, but then I felt self-conscious that I was covering things and people might be judging me for that so I'd uncover things. I wish I'd had a sign that said "I'm just avoiding sunburn, not trying to hide...anymore" and man... I need to figure out how to care less about what people are thinking about me because it's damn exhausting.
We stayed there for, I don't know, three, four hours? (And can I just get a whoop whoop for not burning at all!?) And I sat and chatted with people about this, that and the other and the whole time I was naked and it didn't matter because everyone was there to be naked and I figured I'd survived.
I was honestly surprised when we got back to the car and I sat down and started to cry.
Jason asked what was wrong and all I could explain was that it had been a lot.
I found the whole thing completely overwhelming. Jason asked me a few times as we drove home if I'd liked the beach, if I'd enjoyed myself. I kept saying that I just didn't know. And I don't. I don't know how I felt about it.
I don't know how I felt about being naked in front of other people.
I don't know how I feel about that.
I'm not sure why I'm not more "ok" with it or what's going on in my brain but you can bet I'm trying to figure it out.
Will I go back with Jason?
He's asked if I want to go next weekend again and I'm kind of like... uh... maybe?
I don't know.
I don't know how I feel about ME being naked around other people.
I did fine. I talked with people and we were all naked but it was emotionally overwhelming and I'm not sure why.
I'll bet there are studies and I could probably google it and I bet if I'd grown up in a different part of the world it would be no big deal at all. Or if I'd grown up in another other part of the world it would be completely abhorrent and wrong. I just don't know.
I tried to explain it to Jason... just that it was overwhelming and he said that yes, he remembers that the first time he went to the beach he found it pretty heavy.
I suppose there are social norms and things that need to get broken down and broken through or... something for many people.
Will I ever become a nudist? A regular?
I have no idea.
Will I give it another shot? Probably? Maybe?
But when I was doing my grocery shopping the next day I kept seeing older men (there were a few at the beach that day) and wondering... is that a man who has seen my breasts naked?
It's a very strange thought for me and I'm still not sure how I feel about it.
But it was a thing. I did it. And now I'm trying to figure it out in my brain.
I'm sure I have more to say on this (as if this post isn't long enough as is) but I'm feeling all gablepar9p8htyhj again (no, I don't know what that means either... just my mind is fried and my brain exploded)
So, yeah, don't judge k?
Because I'm feeling like I'm the only one there who was judging me, but maybe that's part of the lesson...
So there you go.