Maine Writer’s arrival at the Big Creative Writing conference was quite dramatic. Her plane was late, touching the ground just 46 minutes before she was supposed to give a presentation. So she ran through the airport, jumped into a cab, used her charm to convince the cab driver that this was indeed an urgent matter, paid the cab driver while the vehicle was still moving, burst out of the cab, and ran into the convention center. Her boots clicking on the tile floor, the skirt of her red dress swirling, she pushed her way past groups of conference attendees, dragging her suitcase behind her. She leaped onto the escalator, ran through the crowd at the bottom, and arrived with not a minute to spare in the room where people were beginning to gather for her panel.
“I’m panting,” she said into the microphone, while the audience looked at her appreciatively. “That’s because I get excited about longform journalism.”
Even though we roomed together, she and I didn’t get too much time together at this conference. She arrived late because she was giving a talk somewhere else, and I left a day early to get to my nephew’s wedding. But we made the most of our time. Luckily, we both talk fast. We managed, in just a few hours that evening, to talk about life, about death, about books and writers and editors. We ate dinner with some friends, after a bunch of frantic text messages that included a photo of the strange statue in the lobby — odd statures serve as great meeting places in otherwise bland hotels — and it was late by the time we got back to the room.
“You’re leaving in the morning,” Maine Writer said. “So we better take the naked photo now.” She knows the tradition: my conference roommate always poses for my blog.
“Let’s get that mirror into the photo,” I said. I began shoving furniture around.
“Great idea,” she said and began stripping off her clothes. “So tell me how your kids are doing. Shaggy Hair Boy is getting married this summer?”
Our conversation continued as I cleared the desktop and she climbed up, naked. I took the photo. Then we plunged back into our conversation, even while I uploaded the photos to my laptop. It took us only minutes to choose the photo, and then we kept talking some more while I packed all my stuff. I left the next morning before dawn.
I’m glad that in the busy swirl of the conference, we had that moment of stillness.
Read more about the history of the naked blogging project and check out the gallery of photos.