For many years I have lived with other people. I have few moments of ever being alone without someone around the house—a husband or a child coming by with his or her friends spread throughout every room. And then there’s the dog. Privacy is a foreign word to me. Someone is always there, most often wanting something from me. I’m always in a state of readiness.
So a while back I gave myself a little mini-adventure by traveling alone to Montana to spend a week at a writers’ retreat. I knew no one, so there was a healthy mix of apprehension and exhilaration. Leaving my family behind, I packed my bags and my laptop and landed in the Old Hotel in Twin Bridges, Montana, population 416. At my stage of life, there aren’t that many new experiences, and just being in a town where women are still gals and low fat food hasn’t made its appearance yet, would have been novel enough for me. But the truly new experience for me was in my room at the little B&B on Main Street.
I pulled into the gravel side yard of the Old Hotel and parked my rented car. Paula and Bill, the proprietors, showed me to my room that was actually a little suite of two rooms.
Momentarily, I felt homesick, wishing my husband was there or one or more of my kids were bedding down in the second room. But then I decided to welcome the solitude. I stood in the middle of my room and took in all the charm and beauty of the place and the town. And then I got naked.
There wasn’t a lot of purpose in my nakedness. I just felt heady with all that privacy and I didn’t know another way to savor it. So, I closed the curtains on the three windows of the suite and I got naked. I plopped on the bed and just lay there doing nothing but being naked. Then I got up and put on the little television in the room and watched it naked. I did a little freedom jig as I watched CNN. Naked, the news didn’t seem that bad.
One good thing about being naked is that nothing is too tight on you. Which gave me permission to finish the box of Milk Duds I bought for the car ride from the airport to Twin Bridges. And the pistachio nuts in case the ride was longer than I thought.
Outside my open windows, I heard the voices of two or three people (which constitutes a hoard in Twin Bridges). “Bring ‘em on,” I thought. “I’m naked and you don’t know it.” Trucks rolled down Main Street and I happily ate my snacks and watched Wolf Blitzer who also had no idea I was naked. “I’m going to be naked more often,” I thought. “When the husband is at work, I’ll get naked in my room and watch Dr. Phil naked. I’ll talk on the phone naked but I’ll sound as if I’m dressed. No one will know.” The thought felt completely liberating. I would do everything in the privacy of my bedroom naked, except look in the full-length mirror.
Then the wind started up and the lightweight curtains began to blow into the room. Before I could get to them, the curtains facing the chair that I was sitting in blew apart. There were two men across the street who appeared to look up just as I lurched at the curtains. I fell to the floor and crawled the rest of the way until I could get to the windows to close them. I lay on my stomach and stretched my arm up to the place where it could drag the first window down and lock the wind out.
Lying on the floor, I didn’t feel quite so free anymore. I didn’t have the courage to get up because I knew the other windows were open and the wind was now blowing all the curtains around. I slid from window to window on my stomach like a soldier dodging bullets in a war zone, careful not to get rug burns in places that would be hard to explain when I got home. Windows safely closed, I got up, threw on a long T-shirt and a pair of sweats and knew I would never get naked in Montana again.