This post is an attempt to write about some of the most important people in my life, and about some of the main events that have happened in my life since I last posted. To no one’s surprise, these important people are often naturists, and these main events are often nude or clothing-optional!
A lot of folks know that henna is a natural dye that can be used to make non-permanent tattoos, and also as a hair colorant. Henna marking is a practice original to the greater Indian Ocean region, now widely adapted all over the world. Often henna tattoos are used to mark special occasions such as weddings. I’ll come back to henna in a bit.
I have a group of dear friends who are artists as well as fellow naturists/nude-friendly folk. I’ve been spending a lot of time with them lately. For purposes of this blog, I’ll use initials: L, C, M, H and A. My partner L is an arts educator, Reiki master, former gallery owner, and painter whose nudes will be featured at an annual exhibition next month at the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center, where the members of this group have been very active. C is a digital painter as well as accomplished musician, performer, and arts activist, who shared a vendor table with me last fall at the arts festival at Oaklake Trails Naturist Park. M, a creative writer, organized an underwater nude photography event at a friend’s pool last summer for which we all modeled. The owner of the pool, H, is an arts and music supporter and, along with the rest of us and many others, a member of the private Facebook naturist group that M manages.
All of these folks are dear to me, additionally, for helping me as a writer. L has read and given me feedback on both of my novels. C reviewed Aglow for me online. M gave me feedback for the first chapters of Aglow when it was still a work in progress.
And then there’s A, an accomplished painter, activist, and organizer of the monthly and annual exhibitions at the Equality Center gallery mentioned above. Until recently, A, C, and M lived together in a home where they fashioned a nude-friendly garden space in their backyard, complete with hot tub, outdoor shower, and a privacy fence specially constructed and lighted by C.
M, C, L, my partner B and I were getting ready to participate in the nude 5K at Oaklake Trails, which was held just a short while ago on Saturday, May 13. On the Thursday prior – May 11 – we met at the home of M, A and C so that A could paint henna tattoos on those of us who were going to walk the race. It was M’s idea – a clever way to mark us as runners in the same group. Since henna is a natural sunblock, one of the interesting things about henna tattoos is that, if exposed to the sun, they will leave a “negative” of their design on the skin once they fade.
|B’s eagle, C’s dragon, M’s Green Man (after henna removal), L’s hamsa, my eclipse|
And then, on the morning of Monday, May 15, just two nights after the 5K, A… didn’t wake up. She had passed away in her sleep at age 61, no sickness or suffering evident.
Suddenly, among all the emotional shocks, logistical necessities, visits and hugs and tears, our henna tattoos gained immense emotional value. They were the last works of art that A had made, three days before her passing. The strokes from her brush in her hand were still marked upon us.
Henna tattoos, like our bodies, are impermanent. I like to think that these final designs by A on the bodies of people she loved, were her reminders to us to seize the day, catch the sun, face the wind and live lives of unfettered creative expression, for our own good and everyone else’s, before our too brief time on earth comes to an end.
There will be a memorial service for A at the Equality Center next month. Our A will always live on in our hearts and minds.