This past weekend, I had the pleasure of finally meeting a woman with whom I’d only had email conversations about clothes free life. She and I were introduced via email by a mutual friend, another young woman who lives in my city. This mutual friend is a very close friend of mine, basically my sister, someone with whom I’ve talked about my clothes free life. Although she doesn’t engage in clothes free life, she follows my posts on Instagram, and I share all my stories with her when we hang out. About a year ago, she was moved to tell this lady about my clothes free life, and this woman wound up adopting it for herself.
Ever since we were introduced via email, I have wanted to meet this lady in person just to connect. Although I have had the pleasure of going to some social events last year, the majority of my encounters with people are through the Internet. Indeed, social can be quite expensive to pull off; I saved aggressively last year to make those trips happen. Yet, in-person encounters are often the easiest for me to navigate, because I can get a sense of spirit and energy, and space can be filled by simply being present rather than having to say / type something in order for the other person to know that I am “listening” or still there. In fact, I much prefer to say very little and simply be with others. For me, presence often seems to communicate more eloquently than words.
I was excited to receive a text from my local friend about the three of us getting together for a Sunday brunch, as the lady happened to be in town. The metro / subway trains could not come fast enough, and of course there were the requisite unexpected delays due to malfunctioning trains and broken track signals. My heart was beating out of my chest as I stood on the platform glaring at the minute countdown to the train’s arrival: 12 minutes…7 minutes … 2 minutes… At last, the train came. I won’t get into whether I knocked people over to get to the restaurant. It’s really not important. No, don’t ask. Suffice it to say, I arrived there sweat-soaked, and no humans were (severely) injured in the process.
Brunch was fantastic with the three of us spending time laughing and sharing food. At one point, the mutual friend had to take off for a meeting, so the lady and I decided to stroll through an art festival taking place in the neighborhood. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, perfect for leisurely walks and heart shares. It was amazing to get to know each other and to talk about all of life. We talked about our home towns, types of work we do, interests, and of course, the blessings of clothes free life. Her story is hers to share when the time comes, but I will say that it was so invigorating to talk with her about how deeply healing clothes free life has been for both of us. She has had an incredible journey, and I’m so glad that she now has clothes free life to support the blossoming of her true self.
We also wandered into a kid’s toy store and both agreed that I should buy the giant stuffed giraffe and bring it to my office. The only 2 reasons I didn’t: 1) needing to save aggressively for things I want to do this summer and 2) I wasn’t sure how patient the giant stuffed giraffe would be on the subway rides home.
Although our time spent that day was in our clothed state in public settings, we got quite naked in what we shared with each other about our life journeys and why clothes freedom has been healing for us. I am so glad that we got to meet in-person and I look forward to the next time we are in the same city and can hang out.
Meeting other women, especially in-person, remains important to me for a number of reasons. Most of my clothes free conversations take place through the Internet. And, as wonderful of a medium as the Internet can be, it is not the same as getting a sense for who people are in person. In addition, from where I am, there aren’t many women online. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles and as mentioned in pieces written by other female contributors, the online environment can be challenging. Trust is something I wrestle with more and more.
Online is a whole other energetically anonymous beast.
We all know about the fakers, the ones who misappropriate the terms naturism, nudism and clothes free living for their sexual endeavors. But even aside from that, there are times when online interactions feel forced or rushed to me. I’ve had situations where I’ve “liked” something or re-posted something I found inspiring, and users interpreted that as a desire for instant private communication. That has been one of the more challenging things for me to navigate. I have learned that I don’t like private communication / direct messages, at least not right away. I’m more of a “things take time” person where I need to watch and engage in public feeds before I feel comfortable having private conversations with people.
I saw this tweet from @beebs_in_queens the other day:
I've made a few friends off twitter. But it was a nature progression. You chat, you engage, you learn about each other.
— Rasheda Beebs (@beebs_in_queens) April 18, 2016
Once I read this, I realized that’s exactly how I feel in the online environment, too. I’ve seen some folks say that because nudists are, well, nudists, there is the instant bond, trust and so forth that happen. I don’t feel that way. When people direct message me right away or ask me a lot of personal questions right off the bat, I wonder why they are being so nosy and insistent when this is not something that happens for me during in-person interactions. I don’t ask acquaintances about all their personal life details right away. Most of the time I won’t hang out with them one-on-one until I’ve encountered them in group settings a few times. Those are things that unfold over time for me.
On top of that, trust comes easier for me in person, because the online environment is simply too unpredictable. I’ve had enough online encounters where the neutral and safe path was lost. Sometimes people are looking for something else to fill a kind of need (sexual and non sexual) for which I am not available. I’ve also seen folks, men and women, who initially seemed to be all about non-sexual clothes free life turn into sex-crazed “sensuality” obsessed personalities. Even this week I discovered this about a user where I hadn’t anticipated it before. It just seems like at any given moment online personalities just blow up. When I am around folks in-person, I can feel energy. I might not know what it is, but if something feels “off” I can usually sense that and walk away. Online is a whole other energetically anonymous beast. And the longer I am online, the more guarded I become and the less people I trust.
I do plan to arrange some in-person gatherings for women where I live. I have been slowly and mindfully building that base, though, through organic connections, conversations and sharing. A few female friends in my city have been sharing with me that they now cook naked, spending time at home clothes free whenever possible, or that they were inspired by me to not wear more clothing than they absolutely need. A couple of them want to do naked yoga. It has taken a long time, but I believe that there is now a foundation of trust and safety upon which I can build and create some clothes free / clothing optional hang out time for a small group of us. I hope to create something soulfully fulfilling for the women in my community and life.