We’re the yin and yang of roommates. Take, for example, the way we dressed for an evening reading. Maine Writer looked sleek and chic in a dark cocktail dress, her hair smoothed down, an elegant purse slung over her shoulder. I trudged in from the snow in hiking boots and jeans, my hair blown into a tangled mess, my ski parka bulging awkwardly with cell phone, wallet, and a bunch of pens I'd gotten for free.
Our friendship works because we're good for each other. Plus, we’ve got 73 mutual friends on facebook, and surely that counts for something.
Sharing a hotel room with Maine Writer is like rooming with a tornado, except that instead of smashing houses, she crashes parties. She’s a swirl of energy and ideas, and she moves fluidly from topic to topic. Nothing stands in her way: she can charm any editor, sneak into the heart of the most fierce colleague, and talk her way into the most exclusive party.
I didn't know Maine Writer very well the first time I roomed with her, four years ago. At that conference, she stopped back at our room between sessions to find a naked writer sitting on top of our desk, posing in the natural light that filtered through the curtains. If Maine Writer was startled, she didn’t show it. She looked at the camera I was holding and assessed the situation quickly. “Are you going to leave the bracelets on?” she asked our naked colleague. “I think they are a nice touch.”
Then she turned towards me. “Who else is on your list? I can pose if you need me to.” That’s the kind of spirit I like in a roommate.
This year in celebration of our fifth year rooming together at Big Creative Writing Conference, we decided we wanted a special location for the photo shoot. “I’m tired of getting naked just to lie on hotel bed,” Maine Writer said. “Maybe we could sneak into an art museum or something.” The night before, we’d crashed an exclusive party, a feat that required serious detective work, glasses of wine to lubricate our informants, rapid-fire text messages, and careful study of the hotel design. We were feeling confident.
“It’s a brilliant idea,” I said. “Let’s find some contemporary art you can get naked with.”
I can’t tell the whole story. It’s all top secret. Our adventure may or may not have included bribes, the police, a drunk security guard, or a flock of geese that tried to stand in our way. But it ended with my lovely roommate removing her clothes, me crouching in the most awkward position ever, and this year’s naked photograph.
If you don't know the history of the naked photo tradition, you can check it out here. Or go look at the gallery of photos.