I almost got old once. The details of that moment are stark in my mind. In fact, I recall it was a Saturday afternoon at about 3 p.m. about eight or nine years ago. I had my plump ass seated on a beach log at a family picnic. Suddenly, a sick feeling took hold in my belly and I realized what was happening. “This is it. You’re going ‘round the bend.” That was the scariest fucking moment of my life. I was physically unwell. I had quit writing. I nearly quit dreaming. I got off my ass and started running again. I’d survived long enough to return back to the woods. It felt so good to run through the forest on misty Saturday mornings, leaping over mossy logs, free, alive, mud splashing on my bare legs. It was like going back in time to when I was a kid and gathered polliwogs in the creek and played Indian boy in the woods.
My plot against growing up seems to be working. The other day, buying whiskey, the clerk scowled at me, then said “Holy Cow!” when I gave him my I.D. He looked down at me wide-eyed, this small 4-foot-10-inch person with red streaks in her hair and no makeup staring back with a naughty smirk while handing him my driver’s license: DOB, 1968. “What’s your secret?”
“Well,” I said, standing up a little taller and squaring my shoulders, “My secret is that I drink a helluva lot of whiskey!”
The truth is, I am very much a 41-year-old woman, but am also a 12-year-old kid, and I plan to stay that peculiar mix of ages for a very, very long time.
In the state of Oregon, public nudity is protected as free speech, as long as there is “no intent to arouse.” Well, there was no arousal going on last spring when I stood shivering, in the cool of the evening. I was waiting for a race to start in Forest Park near downtown Portland. The group of runners included myself and five men. There weren’t too many people around, but then a family came walking up the trail with young children. We were about to strip down to running shoes and take off. Should we wait? We let them pass, then somebody said, “fuck it, let’s go.”
Clothes came off and we lined up. The starter blew a whistle or a horn and we were off. It was crazy, silly and fun. Nobody hiking or running in the park would expect a small pack of pale, nude runners to come streaking up the trail in the chill of May….except this is Oregon and wackiness can ensue just about anytime or anyplace. As we cruised up the trail, my skin began to warm and the air felt brilliantly refreshing on my bare skin. I felt so alive and free. We passed the family, exposing them to nothing more than our bare butts. I heard some snickers and giggles as we ran by. Soon, the men were out ahead and it was just me on the trail. I felt like a deer or a bird, flying along. The few people I passed further up the trail just smiled and waved. I’ll admit that it took some bravery to ditch the clothes in such a public setting, in such a small group, and in broad daylight. But it was also incredibly liberating.
I love to fuck in the bushes as much as the next guy (hehe) but I also believe it’s important to celebrate the joy and freedom of naked exploration without the label of “pervert.” There was nothing sexual about that run. In fact, when we returned to the start, the family we passed asked for information about the next race. It turned out that they are naturists and frequent the clothing optional beach on the Willamette River.
Writing, in all of its forms, keeps me young too. It feels like play. It’s fun. It makes me smile. The act of writing scours my brain and makes me feel complete. When I can’t write or am up against a doodywad who thinks writing is a waste of time, I start to feel suffocated. I began writing in journals when I was seven years old. I found my grandpa’s Hustler when I was eight. Hmmmm. And yes, with most of my writing, there is the intent to arouse. I’m drawn to the genre because….like most of my favorite things, it’s FUN.
When I started running again, I also started writing again. And finally, I started playing again.
Last year, my boy Brad and I logged more than 6,000 naked road miles. We did the World Naked Bike Ride and the Original Bare Buns Run in Spokane, WA. We published stories together, blogged together, and explored sensuality on the page together.We danced around nude in the middle of a highway in Nevada. Brad did a naked Chinese Fire Drill while waiting for a train in the middle of the city. (The chicks in the car next to us LOVED it). We soaked in the hot springs, hiked in the mountains, biked around the playa at Burning Man, did some erotic photo shoots, cooked supper, wrote poetry, played Scrabble, made banana bread, crafted smut, watched the news, gazed at the stars…..all of it NAKED. Why? Why not. Freedom, baby! Freedom!
Fuck it! Let’s go!
Naked Whips photo was taken by David Rolin. Used with permission.