June 29, 2017

Out on a limb

This spring, I got the distinct impression that my friend Maine Writer had changed careers. On facebook, I saw photos of her hanging upside down, supported only by a long stretch of silky fabric, and photos of her swinging from a trapeze. There was a fabulous photo of her body stretched out in mid-air, poised and confident, supported only by an aerial hoop.

Clearly, she’d run off and joined the circus.

I could imagine it all: raucous music playing under the big top, the smell of popcorn and elephant manure, the sawdust floor, the bright silks – and Maine Writer swinging from a trapeze to thunderous applause. I figured she would quickly make friends with the lion tamer, the clowns, and the ringmaster. She’s got that personality. Within days of joining a circus, she’d be star of the show, and what’s more, she’d be friends with EVERYONE.

But when Maine Writer arrived at Friendly Green Conference last week, she seemed just the same. Still a writer. Oh, she had the shiny brightness of a trapeze artist, for sure, but she was talking about a book she just wrote and brainstorming ideas for the next book. When I asked about the photos, she said, “I went to circus camp!” Ah. A once-per-week camp? That made more sense.

Her circus camp training, we both felt, would come in very handy for a naked photo shoot. We just needed to find a tree with smooth branches so she could dangle naked. We planned to get up at dawn — really, we intended to venture out early, before a single soul was out — but of course, the Friendly Green Conference means late nights with friends we hardly ever see, and so it happened that the campus was populated with colleagues walking to sessions by the time we began strolling about in search of a place for a naked photo.

Our friend Ocean Breeze came with us, and rain began to sprinkle down as we walked along. Conditions weren't ideal -- but then again, they so rarely are.

We’d been talking, that morning, about relationships, and the ways in which we are vulnerable. At Maine Writer’s reading the night before, she’d read a piece in which the emotion was so raw that half the room was crying by the time she was done.

“There are people coming this way,” Ocean Breeze warned in her quiet way, as we stopped by some trees and Maine Writer stripped off her clothes. We hadn’t gone very far. We were right in the middle of campus, in fact. And it was daylight.

“I’ll just climb into this tree,” said Maine Writer. It’s true that being naked in public can make most of us feel vulnerable. But perhaps it’s different for writers. I mean, once you’ve taken the smashed pieces of your heart, held them up to the overhead lights of a bookstore, and shown them to a roomful of friends and strangers and people who love you – perhaps being naked physically is easy in comparison.

Out on a limb

Read more about the history of the naked blogging project and check out the gallery of photos.


Elephant's Child said...

Your final paragraph may be true.
Neither my inner workings nor my naked body are pretty sights. But that is a body which deserves to be seen. And a wonderful photo as well.
Is there any limit to Maine Writer's talent?

Mary Ellen said...

Beautiful!!!! You do have gorgeous friends.

I love that she was willing to climb into the tree.

jo(e) said...

Elephant's Child: Oh, I like that. And it's true that Maine Writer has many talents!

Anonymous said...

Lovely, lovely photo.


Great Blue Heron said...

That is a daring and beautiful photo -- and among the natural campus setting of Detroit, too! Color me jealous.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I can feel that bark on my backside...your Maine Writer should have had a long flowing silk scarf...yellow I think no maybe orange:)

DJan said...

Beautiful! I so enjoy seeing all your naked people photos, they are simply stunning. Thank you for sharing Maine Writer with me. :-)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! I love that it was in the middle of campus! Your friends are brave.


robin andrea said...

You do have brave friends! In the middle of campus naked like that. So beautiful in every way.

YourFireAnt said...

Fantastic post, Joe. and the shot of Kate in the tree is wonderful.


Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Another very very cool picture!

Mimi said...