I guess it had been sort of building for the last year; ever since I started kicking my work-outs into high gear.
The work-outs, better diet, supplements…combined, they helped my lose, roughly, twenty-five pounds and add muscle weight. At fifty-seven years old, I had become fitter than I had been ten…twenty...thirty..even forty years ago. For the first time in my life, I had become proud of my body.
Then, earlier this summer, while doing my weekly Saturday afternoon shift, on the air at a Nashville radio station, I picked up the recent copy of Nashville Scene that had been left in the control room by one of the other jocks, who had obviously been doing show-prep. It was Nashville Scene’s Summer Guide—a listing of interesting places and things to do over the summer. I flipped through the pages until one particular story caught my attention—and I have no idea why it did. It just did.
The story was about Rock Haven Lodge, a nudist/naturist camp, about an hour south of Nashville, in Murfreesboro. Erica Ciccarone, the author of the article, had written about her experience covering Rock Haven, and that she had finally “taken the plunge” and “got free.”
Something about Erica’s experience challenged me. Challenged me to shrug off my insecurities…challenged me to take hold of the self-confidence I had been proclaiming…and do it.
This week, I did.
On Monday, I made the drive down to Rock Haven. I made my way to the car park, and walked to the office to introduce myself to Suzie Palmer, the owner of Rock Haven Lodge. Matter-of-factly, Suzie told me that I was checked-in, and to “leave your clothes in the car—and your mobile phone.” She provided me with a map and easy directions to the pool. Suzie had given me instructions so easily, that complying was even easier. I returned to the car and stripped. I grabbed my book, my towel, and a couple bottles of water. Just like I had been instructed when I was a teenager learning how to drink in bars without getting caught (act like you belong here), I put my shoulders back, my chin up, and followed the path to the pool.
A couple lounging at their trailer gave me a friendly wave as I walked by them and I waved back like I’d been walking around naked—in front of strangers—all of my life. The funny thing was…it really did feel like I’d been walking around naked in front of strangers all of my life. Any inhibitions that I’d had, were back in the car, neatly piled with my Levis 501’s and white t-shirt. Seriously.
Upon entering the pool area, I found a lounge chair in the sun, laid my towel out, settled down on my back, and read my book. There were two couples at the pool reading magazines in the heat, and occasionally choosing to go for a dip in the pool. There were also a couple of other guys on their own, just enjoying the sunshine.
I was enjoying the down-time. I was able to enjoy my book and work on my tan…and when I got a little too hot, I went into the pool to cool down—making polite conversation with a couple in the pool. After a dip in the pool, I thought I would take a stroll around Rock Haven, to explore trails and get to know people. I met one gentleman who introduced himself as I strolled by his summer home, and told him it was my first time at the lodge. As we talked about politics, government, the people at Rock Haven Lodge, the thought never even crossed my mind that we were having a naked conversation. Not once. It was only when I was making my way back to the pool, when I saw my reflection in a window, that I was reminded of my nudity.
All in all, I spent about 3 hours enjoying Rock Haven Lodge that day. As I had been warned, putting my clothes on at the car would be disappointing. It was. Seriously.
As I drove home, I noticed that I was smiling. Something I rarely do…especially when driving. I’m being very honest with you—and trust me, you can’t get much more honest than being naked—it was amazing. I wish I had done it years ago, because it doesn’t matter what your body is like, it’s welcome at Rock Haven Lodge. I needn’t have waited until I was in shape to visit…and neither should you.
Do I want to go back? Absolutely. Did I feel comfortable? Absolutely. Was it a life-changing experience for me? Honestly? Yes, absolutely. Why? Well, if you’re like me, we spend a lot of time telling ourselves that we really don’t care what others think about us; the way we look, the way we dress…you know what I mean. I know you do. But for the first time in my life, it was true. Not one person I met had a perfect body. We all had scars, tattoos, wrinkles, parts of us we’d like bigger or smaller. But we were all the same…naked.
Shoulders back, chin up, act like you belong. Because, at Rock Haven Lodge, you do.
Here are some tips:
-wear sunscreen everywhere
-bring a towel to sit on
-wear shoes/sandals/flip-flops because roads and paths are gravel
—no photography, and mobile phones must be left in your car
-cost is $30 per couple or single woman (after her initial visit), $45 per single man, but if you’re younger than 30, it’s just $5 to get in.
Rock Haven Lodge is located at 462 Rock Haven Road, Murfreesboro, TN. 615-896-3553, www.rockhavenlodge.com