The two? Paradise Valley in Pray, Montana (for fly fishing) and Paradise Valley in Dawsonville, Georgia (for nude swimming and sun bathing).
For now, let’s stick with the latter, the one an hour north of Atlanta, the one where clothing is optional. Doc B had already been there a couple of times before meeting me and was an expert at the whole nudist thing. It still puzzles me that with all of my locker room issues I would have given in and agreed to go. Maybe there was a promise of a stop off at Burt’s Pumpkin Farm or the North Georgia Premium Outlets? Oh wait, it was a new relationship and I was trying to appear spontaneous and adventurous – no promises needed.
I was also somewhat calmed by one of the Paradise Valley rules: “behavior requiring an apology is not tolerated”. I’m well aware of the golden rule but I had never heard of this “naked” rule before. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all practiced both?
I ultimately decided that my biggest fear about going to a nude pool was running into someone I knew. Like my boss, a co-worker, my best friend, my therapist or Hugh Jackman (okay, so I’ve never met Hugh). It’s the same way I feel when giving a presentation – I get all nervous if I know the people in the audience. I’d rather not know the crowd I’m presenting to – I don’t even have to imagine them naked.
During the drive north, I psyched myself up with all sorts of positive affirmations about my weight and my life. We finally arrived at the check-in gate where I had the familiar feeling of being a sheepish underage teen trying to buy alcohol. But the staff members were so nice and welcoming, unlike the grumpy old bartenders back in the day who ultimately gave us our cases of Michelob Light.
We entered the pool area, trying to look all cool and confident…but with our clothes on. We quickly found two chaise lawn chairs and set up camp. I figured if I removed my clothes slowly it would look like I was inviting a show, so before Doc B could blink, I was on my towel, naked, reading a book, with my Jackie O sunglasses perched perfectly on my nose. I just stared at the book for the longest time, reading the same line over and over again. I was just looking for a place to direct my eyes, kind of like a drishti (see it always comes back to yoga).
I prayed that I wouldn’t have to go to the bathroom because then I’d have to get up. But I really wanted a beer, or a shot of something, or both. So like when I get talked into going camping (Doc B always promises to make and bring me coffee to the tent) Doc B walked her skinny butt up to the bar. I so wanted a spring-break funnel to get the booze into my system fast but I drank it slowly because of the bathroom issue. After a short while, and after finally gaining the courage to pull my eyes away from my book, I realized that everyone there wasn’t Hugh Jackman, and there was only one person who was a size 2 with 6 pack abs. I ultimately got up the nerve to walk to the pool with Doc B. We slipped in and I recalled how nice it is to skinny dip.
For my first and only visit to a clothing optional pool, I mainly left my nudity on the lawn chair. But I did it.