Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Where nude is the norm

"For me, the naked and the nude
(By lexicographers construed
As synonyms that should express
The same deficiency of dress
Or shelter) stand as wide apart
As love from lies, or truth from art."

--Robert Graves, The Naked and the Nude

While pondering fun things to do in Northern California (and there are many) over some disappointingly bland chicken vindaloo at Kathmandu Kitchen Sunday night, my friend G and I decided that we would make a trip to some hot springs. I am enamored of the idea of hot springs, particularly when it's still chilly out (which, hopefully, it still will be in March).

G pointed out something I'm aware of, but not enamored of, with respect to hot springs. She informed me that wearing a swimsuit will get you more attention than frolicking in the buff because "nude is the norm."

I have two separate reactions to this. First, I don't care, I am secure enough in my own body-based insecurity to wear my swimsuit anyway. I don't like being naked in public. I do like skinny-dipping, but only in the middle of the night with my girlfriends, not with a bunch of old hippies. I'd like to pretend I'm not going to get saggy until I get saggy myself. I'm sure I'll be over it by the time I'm saggy too, but for now, I like to leave a little to the imagination. On the other hand, I completely welcome the opportunity to subvert American prudishness (for which, at times, I think I may be the poster child, and should probably work on getting over). As much as clothing provides a cover for what at times is unsightly, I spent a long time hiding in my clothes instead of accepting my body for what it is and moving forward. Certainly, nudity would push me to abandon that tendency.

There are several lovely hot springs nearby, like Wilbur, Grover and of course, Harbin. And looky here, Harbin Hot Springs has domes! You know how I love unusual lodging.

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