I Spent the Day Before My Birthday in My Birthday Suit, in Public
He called and said, “I’m heading to the lake. It’s a beautiful day, you should join me. It’ll be fun. There are some nice naked beaches.”
Now, if this was back in the US, that invitation would have been a lot more unusual than it is here. (It was still a bit unusual because this was a first date!) But here in Berlin and this part of Germany, almost every public beach has an FKK (AKA nude) beach section. I have walked along the Baltic Sea, passing between clothed and unclothed beach areas, with hardly a blink. Last summer, I was at a beach with a girlfriend and we were sitting close to the FKK side, (a short wall between the beaches marked the space) and the snack kiosk was right in the middle. I stood in line for a cold water, surrounded by happily free and exposed penises! (Furiously texting my BFF- “OMG! Penises everywhere!”)
Now that I have been living here for over a year, I am a lot less uptight. In so many ways, I have come to terms with my body and my sexuality. I have even been to a few swingers’ clubs. The hang-ups I came to Berlin with, are no longer barriers to me enjoying myself, my own pleasure, and my body. Being in Berlin has connected me to my physical sensual self. Something about the energy here pulls me, reaches into me, and forces me to become freer and more open, truer to me.
In the spirit of that newly developed freedom, in celebration of one last beautiful warm summer day, and a grasp at a final adventure in my 45th year, I agreed to go with him to the lake. Once there, he parked the car and we walked through the woods making our way to the more private and FKK side of the lake. It was beautiful. The sun was shining, there was a light breeze and I was in the woods! I haven’t been out in nature in so long. I am such a creature of the city now, that the smells of the trees and the fields, filled me with joy and contentment. Already this was a pretty amazing day.
We came to the crest of the hill and through the trees I could see the lake. Shimmering, black water, and the gorgeous sun glowing off the surface. We made our way down the hill and to the site he usually visits and were immediately standing among about 20 naked Germans. It wasn’t really a beach, but more a small dry dirty patch in the woods at the edge of the lake. We stood there for a moment assessing the situation and decided to move a little further down the path and see if there was someplace a little more private.
We walked down the path, and all along the edge of the water there were small “alcoves” of grass and sand, where a half bench was installed at the edge of the path and groups or pairs of people (mostly unclothed) were ensconced in their own little private “beach” between the bench and the water. I giggled to myself. Imagine, in the US, walking down a path by the side of a lake, and not being annoyed, offended, pissed off, whatever, if you saw naked people just chilling, reading a book, talking to each other, drinking a beer, or swimming, right on the side of the path! You would turn your children’s heads and yell at the offenders, you might even be tempted to call the police! But here, we just calmly waked on, until we found our own little alcove and settled in.
After laying our blankets down, he immediately undressed, and I mean totally undressed. I had my bikini on under my dress, and took my dress off, but then started rooting in my bag for snacks and wine, keeping myself distracted for a minute. I had told him that I couldn’t promise that I would go completely naked and I was still unsure. We laughed about this being both of our first, “naked first date.” The joking relieved some of the awkwardness. He went to the edge of the lake and said, “I’m going in. I’ll give you a minute.”
I’m glad he did. As I sat there in my bikini, naked people all around me, but safely in their own little areas, I had a moment to reflect. I knew I was ready for this. After all, I have already had sex in front of and with strangers in a sex club! This was not nearly that “extreme.” Also, sex clubs aside, I knew I was comfortable enough in my own skin, that being naked was just an extension of the confidence I have gained about myself over the past few years.
I took a deep breath, whipped off my bikini top, stripped out of my bottoms, stood up and went to the edge of the water. I could see his head bobbing out in the distance, he was still giving me plenty of space to make this happen. Thank goodness, because this was not a beach, it was just a spot in the woods where the lake meets the shore, and the mud and tree branches made for an awkward physical entry. Not sexy at all.
But once I was in the water, oh the pure joy! It had been too long since I had felt the bliss of water holding me up, caressing me, lifting me up and carrying me effortlessly. I missed it so much. It made me remember living in Costa Rica and how the ocean surrounding me made me feel grounded and centered in the earth, the flow of the water connecting me to everything and nothing. Tears filled my eyes and I felt overwhelmed with the bliss of the moment. My date had come close and wanted to flirt and touch, but he was like a gnat, flying around annoying me. I just wanted him to go away and let me feel this visceral connection with the earth, the water, the sky. I am a dragonfly. It is one of my totem animals. Both of the air and the water, and it’s been too long since I could literally be part of both, and I wanted to take advantage of that experience.
The rest of the day was pretty much the same, laying on our blankets, enjoying the breeze and the sun, naked, people walking or riding their bikes past. I was surprised at how little shame or embarrassment I felt. It was very freeing when I realized the shame I would have felt before was more in other people being embarrassed for me, not me being ashamed of myself. But here, no one is worried or stressed about nudity at all. Being naked is normal and not something to be ashamed of and not a call for alarm.
Besides, I am beautiful. My body is fluffy but strong. As I floated in the water, my large full breasts peeking out of the surface of the water, my legs holding me up, my soft stomach white and pale, suspended in the space between the water and the air, I felt amazing. My body is an incredible machine. It has taken me all over the world, it walks daily around my chosen city, and it is capable of feeling immense pleasure. The exquisite pleasure of a marijuana high from smoke blown directly into my mouth by my lover, the hearty pleasure of an amazing meal, and the sensual pleasure of the featherlight touch of a partner’s fingers on my skin. This body betrayed me with infertility and feels almost constant knee pain, but protects and cradles my heart, my soul, my intrinsic being.
Hovering there in the water, the sun shining on me, legs and arms splayed, head back, almost completely submerged, floating free, I left my body. I drifted up over the lake and looked down on myself and loved me. I loved that big girl floating there. I loved her bravery. I loved her vulnerability. I loved her strong parts and her soft bits. She is incredible, there naked in the water, overcoming all those messages that say large woman are less than small women, and women are less than men. I loved how open she is to love, willing to risk her heart over and over for the reward of connection. Naked, open, and willing to say, “Yes, this is me. Love me for all of this, not in spite of all of this.” That moment will be seared in my soul forever.
When I came back to myself, I laughed out loud. I splashed in the water and cavorted with my date. I was the sexiest woman alive! There was no hope for him, he would have to totally fall under my spell, my power was so strong! We started to kiss, and I wrapped my legs around him. Somehow, he swam closer to the shore where he could ground his feet in the mud. Slowly our kissing became rocking against each other, and slight moans slipped from my lips. My own power overcame me. I leaned back and abandoned myself to the sensual feeling of the water stirring around us, his arousal between my legs, the power of my self-confidence and his light kisses on my neck and chest. We rocked in synch, the water allowing our bodies to move with ease, until we felt the pulsing of our mutual pleasure being released (as silently as possible because there were people sitting in the next alcove over from ours and they could probably see us in the water!) I kept my legs around him, and he pulled me close. I lay my head on his shoulder as we both came down from the incredible high of that experience, breathing heavily into each other’s neck.
We didn’t speak. He left the water first, and as I exited from that sacred place, he grabbed his camera and took pictures. I still felt so strong and brazen, I wanted to show off. I felt memorialized in all my naked glory. Part of me still felt ashamed of my thick thighs, the cellulite shining in the sunlight, my stomach white pale and too big, folded over as I lifted my leg to leave the water, but the appreciative sounds he was making, brought me back to my true self. The dragonfly, the Botticelli goddess, this 45-year old American divorcee who has finally become herself.
Naked. In a lake. Outside of Berlin.