“What else can I do before I absolutely, positively, without a doubt must get on to the road?” This is the question I kept asking myself as my heart raced and hands shook in anticipation of my first ever solo road trip into my first clothes free vacation.
Don’t get me wrong, I was truly excited, over the moon in fact, to finally nakation. I had been hearing clothes free people rave about it and share all their stories on blog posts and Twitter. I was mad jealous! This nakation had been in the making for quite a while. By the time June hit, I was counting down in the wildest ways: months, weeks, days, hours, number of large projects left at work, number of ordinary grocery runs remaining, number of menstrual cycles left (yep). The countdown was part of the fun, all the anticipation, marinating in each moment of “OMG I CAN’T WAIT!!!” and yet I was doing my best to be present to each moment, rather than in a dream of what was to come.
Let me tell you, I definitely got present the week prior, at least at work. I was an absolute monster with all the projects and tasks on my to-do list. I shut that door at the office, put on my SuperSuit / ClothesFreeDress by Me, and hammered out one thing after the next: creating new positions, cleaning up our structures, reconciling accounts, writing reports, handing out promotions… I was unstoppable! Not to toot my own horn, but look, I’m tooting my own horn, because the excitement of the coming first ever nakation definitely fueled major productivity. And it was such a great feeling, especially after a very difficult year at work.
But in a way, all those things that I had to take care of before heading out were buffers. Any fears or anxieties about my first clothes free vacation were wallflowers during the times when I was dominating all the tasks at work and all addressing other commitments. Once everything was done, I was like, “Uh oh…” My stomach began to twist and my breathing went out the window. There was nothing left but to complete the packing, grab the rental car and hop on the road. And once Tuesday actually came, I had to step up and step out.
My mom coached me that morning. “Breathe as you handle one task at a time.” I needed that line, because in my mind, there was this massive adventure before me like a giant, and I shivered at the sight of it. Can I do a road trip? Can I dive into a clothes free environment with a bunch of strangers? OMG I’ve never been camping! Can I create something awesome out of all this? All these things and more swirled in my mind, and at times I found myself frozen by the anxieties. But that line from my mom, one thing at a time, helped me manage step by step.
Make the food. Get the car. Pack it up. Take a shower. Grab groceries. Get cash…
And finally a message from the other side, “Where are you?” Nothing like people and money to solidify a commitment. I had already paid the registration for the event, I’d already paid for the rental car, and I had already given my word that I would be there. Most of all, I knew that if I didn’t go, I would be more upset and depressed than ever, that it would be one of my biggest regrets in my entire life. I had to go, no turning back. So, in the parking lot of the bank, I strapped my seatbelt, set my Google Maps course, and took a deep breath. “Hitting the road.” Message sent.
Quick aside: I like toy animals, so this fella here on the right I got as my travel buddy. I saw it at the store in the baby section and couldn’t resist. It squeaks when squeezed. No, I don’t have babies, but I mean, really, who could resist that? So I brought it along for the ride.
The drive was everything I needed to transition slowly from busy city life to the open outdoors. I could feel the stress melting as the city buildings surrendered to trees, sun and blue sky. Before I knew it, I was in Pennsylvania, and green luscious mountains dazzled my eyes. The sun washed everything in radiant glory. Open fields, cows, horses, frame houses scattered here and there, all of it mile after mile drawing me in. Gone were my earphones, the angry cyclists and honking horns. Here was the open road, surroundings undressing to their natural beauty. I could feel my spirit undress, my breath returning, a kind of softening in my body as I, too, transitioned. And with that transition came ease. I allowed myself to take my time on the road. No need to rush or race. I made as many stops as I needed. I gave myself permission to make wrong turns and know that everything would be just fine. And it was.
I thought I would want a long playlist of music for the drive. In fact, I’d spent days cultivating a list that included all sorts of music: Rip Slyme (Japanese hip hop), Avril Lavigne, The Kinks, The Troggs, Dave Matthews Band, Ace of Base, “Fashion Ka Jalwa,” Dido…the list goes on. Yeah, I didn’t even touch the playlist. The thing is, I choose my music based on my mood. And when I was compiling the playlist, I was guessing what kind of mood I’d be in on the day of departure, what I’d need to listen to in order to stay awake and pumped. But, there is no way for me to really know that until the moment comes. In the end, what I really wanted was to hear stimulating conversation. So, I ended up listening to a bunch of podcast episodes of NPR “Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates.” That was really interesting to me, and I ended up joining into the arguments, stating my position on some of the topics, even though, of course, no one could hear me! That (and a little caffeine) definitely kept me awake for the drive.
The drive was wonderful, calming and centering. After hours on the road, I finally landed at my rest site. Sunset. Tomorrow I would meet the people, clothes free.