During phone conversations weeks prior, I told my mom that I was eager to take my first steps out into the open around other clothes free people. Much of my desire came from wanting to have a true, wholesome in-person experience with other clothes free folks. My introduction to clothes free life was through Instagram, flowering from the seed of a clothes free yoga challenge. However, the internet being it’s own planet of crazy, I couldn’t really tell who the true clothes free lifers were, and who was just looking for a good time. I had seen many suggestive comments even from those who claimed to be straight up, so I wanted to know what the real deal was outside of that environment. People said in-person at the right places would be different; I had to see for myself.
Originally, the plan was for my mom and her friend to drop me off at a place of my choice, let me marinate in the experience for an hour or two, then pick me up and the 3 of us continue exploring. But just a week prior, I started avoiding her text messages asking for details about where I wanted to go for my experience. She already knew why: cold feet.
“How about this,” she suggested, “I’ll go in with you! I want to have an experience for myself, too. I was checking things out online. Maybe this Hippie Hollow place?” Me = floored. What?! My mother, who wasn’t even into clothes free, had worked herself up to excitement, done her own research and picked this place. “Yeah,” she went on, “At first, I was afraid, because I thought that people just go to these places, stand around and stare at each other. But I like that this one is a clothing optional park.” I couldn’t run away from the opportunity now. We would both be going together, a first for each of us.
On the way down, I had, as I always do, fallen asleep in the car. Before I knew it, we were at the parking lot of Hippie Hollow chatting with the attendant and paying the entry fee. “OMG! It’s the parking lot from the pictures on the website! We’re actually here!” I squealed. It might as well have been Hollywood. Or the White House!
No nudity was allowed in the parking lot, so mom and I scampered eagerly to the stairs leading out. With each step down, I looked back to watch the parking lot disappear from sight. “When am I allowed to toss this dress?” I wondered. At the final landing we saw a young couple heading our way. They were both clothes free. Well, there ya go!
Mom and I headed to the restrooms to freshen up and put on sunscreen. I almost came without it, to be honest. I was all, “I’m black. I never sunburn.” But one of my best friends grabbed me. “Don’t do it,” he pleaded. “Don’t be that person. Don’t go clothes free outdoors without sunscreen, especially on your first visit!” He had a point. I might be black, but I’m not trying to take any chances here. It was funny trying to put it on. I hadn’t dealt with sunscreen in forever. There were globs of it everywhere, folks. Note to self: sunscreen does not behave like lotion. Use small amounts. Anyway.
Quick side note: the restrooms. We got in there, and there were 2 stalls, but no doors. Just a giant cement wall separating one can from the other. I was like, “OK, I’m feeling open and free, but I wasn’t prepared to be THAT free. What if I had to stay on the can a while and someone else showed up? Do I just go, ‘Yep, so….how are you? Beautiful weather, huh? What a great day to…WAIT, hold on, it’s coming….there! Girl I been trying to get that out since morning!” Good thing it was midday on a Wednesday. Not many people were there, very few women at that.
Once we finished in the restroom, it was time. I stuffed my dress into my bag and stepped out into the sun. It kissed me everywhere, and I smiled brightly in return. Mom stayed in her shirt and shorts and was elated to be on the clothing optional adventure.
We walked down a path for a bit, just the two of us. I felt pure bliss running down my skin as we strolled about chatting and enjoying the quiet fresh air. We saw a few people here and there, mostly men of various ages quietly sunbathing, reading, or walking. At one point we neared a gentleman sitting on a towel in the shade reading. I was like, “Do I say hi? What do I do here?” Indeed, we all greeted each other, just like normal. He looked quite peaceful in the shade reading his book.
Mom and I continued on our way, and as we passed by more folks one by one, we kept saying hello and smiling. It was much simpler than I had imagined. We spent time sitting and taking in Lake Travis. We took pictures together and of each other (careful not to bother or capture others, except this curious-looking clothes free fella on the right).
I took to doing a couple of yoga poses outside and climbing in trees. I felt like such a kid, an animal: innocent and happy, jolly and free. I thought I’d be worried about bugs. Usually I scream terror and run when I see them. Not this time, though. Whenever they came near, I simple stayed still and enjoyed the time with my mom.
“This is so cool,” mom sighed. She loved how serene the environment was. She was at home with everyone there doing their own thing, not making a big deal out of her wearing clothes or me being naked. No one cared. It was peaceful, serene, healing. It was a good tanning for the soul bringing vibrancy to our hearts.
After wandering through a wooded area, we plopped down again to soak in more of the beautiful scenery. The sun was generous that day. A few people passed us by on the stairs, all saying hello and smiling. Some wore clothes, some didn’t. Finally, another clothes free gentleman wearing a hat made his way up and stayed a while for a light chat. That was a great experience: mom in her shorts and shirt, me clothes free, and this gentleman clothes free. It was completely safe and it felt so normal. We talked about how beautiful and quiet the day was. Mother asked some questions about the lake, as it was much, much lower than it should be. The guy had a lot of historical knowledge about how the lake and dams work, past droughts, etc. It was really cool to talk freely.
Finally my mom’s phone buzzed. It was time for us to go meet her friend and head out to see the rest of Austin. The gentleman escorted us a way back, then bid us good day and safe travels. He was friendly without being at all creepy. At no point did I feel uncomfortable. Mom cutely reflected that when he had first come up and started chatting with us, the one concern she had was whether she, too, could be part of the conversation since she was in clothes and we weren’t. “I was like, what’s the protocol here? Do I get to talk to him, too? Does he only talk to you since you’re naked? What’s the deal?” Once she realized that there were no such rules, she felt free to converse at length. She said it felt so normal just to sit there and talk with him.
I was sad to leave Hippie Hollow. When we returned back to the restroom, I looked at my dress and sighed. “Nope, I’m not putting it on until the last minute,” I protested. Mom chuckled. We made our way to the base of the stairway that led up to the parking lot. I threw the dress back on, and as we walked up, I peeked back to take in all that had happened.
Trees, lake, smiles.