My 1st Experience in A Clothing Optional Community
Sitting at the airport gate alone, I wait to board my flight. To say I'm nervous is definitely an understatement. The cause of my nerves isn't the thought of flying alone. Quite to the contrary, this is actually my third trip traveling solo ... It is however my 1st time traveling with the intention of getting fully naked with people I've yet to meet (no names/photos to respect privacy) ... Yes, you definitely read that right LOL! ... Allow me to explain. I love nudity. The male and female form in its natural state is considered art to me. The physical act of disrobing? I consider freeing. The ability to fully undress, take an unflinching look at ourselves, and still find beauty in our bodies is a gift many unfortunately do not enjoy. That said, it's one thing to dress in your skivvies or walk nude around the house. It's a completely different thing to get naked ... For an entire week ... Around a group of fellow nomads I'd only just connected with online via a private close knit group. Even for the most seasoned traveler, this might seem a bit much ... So having butterflies? Only natural.
I'd yet to lay eyes on any of the travel mates I would soon meet ... And yet, here I am ... Listening to the airport intercom, waiting for my boarding number to be called thinking "This is some next level free-spirit sh*t" ... LOL! Sooner than I realize, the overhead blares. I get in line and board the plane. After much anticipation, we lift off and the adventure begins. There's no turning back now!
After a quick four hour flight I land in St. Maarten where the other members of our week long crew will later arrive. Everyone is cool with good energy, and is equally excited to get started on the fun. Though some already knew each other from other group trips / events, they were all so warm in their greetings. As our private van arrives, we drive through the streets of Marigot (the French side of St. Maarten) to our villa in Orient Bay ... The positive vibes as we continue to get to know each other are unmistakable.
Finally, we finally pull up to the villa and open the front door. My nervousness? Dissipates and gives way to excitement. Two floors, multiple bedrooms, loft space, fully equipped everything! ... This is going to be amazing! Settling in included setting our bags down, touring the house, choosing rooms ... And then? Getting into our birthday suites just 15 minutes later!
In the loft space upstairs, I'm tying to get my mind right as I decided my time has come. My thoughts oscillate from "Well dam, we're jumping right into the nekidness huh? to "Can a sista get a glass of wine first though to ease into it?" ... You might say I was having a mini freakout. LOL! ... Again, while I love my nude body, I don't necessarily advertise my nudity either. I'm a virgin to the nudist community. In the end, while my nerves might have returned briefly, it also became part of the excitement. I'd come here to strip away expectations and old societal norms ... To spend a week boldly living in a way completely off routine while connecting with nature ... Free, and on my terms! In short, this is what I signed up for ... So what exactly was I waiting for?
Clothes fall to the floor and are quickly packed away before any firm doubts can form. This was a far cry from my youth filled days of self doubt. I wrap myself in a guest towel and tentatively head downstairs. A male traveler has already stripped as well and is confidently sitting in a living room chair wrapping up work back home on his laptop. He smiles at me and continues working ... More hesitation ... Then it happens. Like ripping off a bandaid, I pull my towel from around my body and throw it over my shoulder.
I'm completely free! Yes, all the way free! And the breeze flapping around my exposed body in this new place, is exhilarating. My new housemates, most of which as I've said, were already confidently disrobed. We spend that first night laughing loudly, drinking great drinks, and having philosophical debates outside in the pool and later the jacuzzi. Taking a moment to look up and the stars and exhale deeply, I couldn't help but be grateful. Life back home was beyond stressful. This mental peace was more than welcomed.
I won't go into each and every detail of this voyage, but what I will say? The overwhelming sense of complete freedom was not lost on me for one moment. In a America (and the larger world) where so much societal weight is placed on women and particularly on black bodies, it was amazing to be present in a space of black and Latino nudists, where we could just ... Be ... Living in the moment and expressing ourselves in the most vulnerable, organically natural way possible. No stigma or no judgments ... Rather, it was the old saying "come as you are" in the truest sense of the word. The only rule? No drama ... And we had all agreed on that. Reflective moments like these continued to flood a few more times over the course of this trip.
From arriving at Orient Bay and grabbing a complimentary drink with our beach chair / umbrella rental while listening to the ocean ...
To connecting with nature and the power of the ocean in our natural form ... Peaceful / playful moments like these resonated with me in a way nothing else had before.
Reflection was also the theme when we decided to venture out and experience other islands. While renting a nude-friendly mini yacht ...
... Skipping over the waves, we decided to head over the St. Barthelemy island (commonly called St. Barths). What made this experience even more enjoyable is the captain and his wife opting to join us in our nudity as we traveled sans clothes while out at sea. At this point, the clothes fell off much easier, as what little shyness I felt earlier had long been lost. I could definitely get used to a life where clothes are an option, rather than a necessity.
After landing in Gustavia (St. Barths' capital) and pulling on garments, we toured a bit and grabbed a few snacks before stripping again and returning to sea.
After more snorkeling and a daring cliff dive by one of the guys in our crew (super brave by the way) ... We arrived to remote Saline (nude) Beach with a couple sitting onshore in the distance. Apparently the nude sun-bathing couple didn't like the arrival of young black and Latino folks happily hopping off the back of a yacht for a swim. They looked at us, quickly packed their belongings, and left five minutes later. Whereas other nudies back on St. Maarten looked at our group curiously at times in passing, they would ultimately continue on their way (the larger nudist community has a huge deficit of black / brown faces). This couple was the first to actually act on our presence. I guess we didn't leave the weight of our blackness completely behind in America after all. After shrugging them off, and of course snapping a few memorable pics, we spent another lazy, nude afternoon charging up our melanin and having a picnic back on the boat. Heaven.
Before coming back to the villa, we hopped off the back of our boat one last time, returning to our nude selves, and snorkeled in parts unknown out in the middle of the Atlantic ... Trap music serving as our soundtrack ... The captain's wife shimmying her bare chest as the chorus asks the listener to put their hands in the air ... Iconic.
Floating on your back naked in the middle of the ocean, huge cliffs looming behind you ... One can't help but get to thinking. In that moment, as the sun began to set over the horizon, I recalled thinking of at least five other friends who would have loved this moment. How many more young people would never even dream that a moment like this is even possible? My final thought? This has to happen again somehow. My friends need to see this.
Finally, the jetsetters in all of us couldn't resist the urge to get one more stamp on our passports.
On one of our last days .. we took a last minute trip to the quiet island of Anguilla.
Stepping into the warm waters of Shoal Beach and watching the sunset over the horizon, I honestly felt like I could burst.
The beauty in this place is absolutely stunning. Shoal Bay is hands down my new favorite beach. Unfortunately, as a former British colony, nudism wasn't an option here, hence the need for a bikini top (that clearly pushes nudity boundaries) and make-shift cover-up ... Because who brings bottoms to a nudist community? LOL!
After spending a week fully nude the thought of putting on clothes felt foreign to me. Where was that young woman who paused when 1st disrobing back at the villa? Literally decades of being forced into clothes by society was undone for me in a matter of one week. At this point, I didn't care who publicly saw me in my nude form.
Before leaving this place ... Arms up, palms literally raised to the sky I exclaimed out loud, "How many of us out there will ever experience this type of freedom? How many kids back in Harlem have no idea to even dream of something like this? ... That it's even possible? Yall .. This? Is amazing!" ... I look around after my random outburst of musings and I see the others looking at me with smiles. I think they felt the magic of that moment as well. And if you notice? In the same way the concept of nudity fell away from being center stage of this story, with gripping tales about nakedness and debauchery ... It disappeared for us as during our week together as well. All of our communal cooking / meals ... House celebrations ... Deep life convos ... Travels ... Laughs, etc were done nude. And yet, after the 1st initial moments, it became a non-issue. Something you saw, but didn't see, if that makes sense.
Instead, it became about the journey and spending each moment with an great group of people without it having to revolve around or circle back to a purely sex-based experience. In no way did I ever feel sexualized. In fact, I felt safer on those islands and back in the villa completely nude, among my new group of friends than I do fully clothed, walking down any street in the United States right now. As proof, I slept better, felt better rested, experienced zero anxiety attacks, and had a clearer mind / thought process than I had in almost forever. Even my skin, which started to breakout due to stress before leaving, cleared up just a few days in. It's amazing what a few days of centering can do. This trip confirmed a lot of personal decisions for me regarding stateside living and it allowed me to connect with myself in a truly unique way.
Ultimately, like MTV's "The Real World," there's a lot of misconceptions and assumptions about what happens when you put fourteen people (both men and women attended this trip) in a house together ... Completely nude ... For a week. You think you know, but you really have no idea until you've done it. I genuinely hope you find out.
Gifts for My Royal Family
Before leaving you guys this week, I wanted to share a few new pieces as a special surprise to my fellow culture lovers and wanderlust dreamers. On this journey, the magic found while on the beach or relaxing in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean played such a central theme in both my reflective and creative processes during this trip. Keeping that in mind, when I stumbled across beach shells from St. Maarten's Orient Bay Beach dipped in gold plating, I knew I had to have them! With a few creative adjustments, these shells became accent pieces on necklaces and are the perfect addition for my fellow Caribbean girls or ones with a deep connection to the ocean. I hope you love them as much as I do!
Until next time loves ... The journey continues!