Our conference last weekend was held on a campus the size of a small city, nestled into a desert ecosystem. The walkways, shaded by tall arrays of solar panels, were crowded with students who are seemed to be in constant motion: walking, running, zooming by on skateboards, or weaving through on bicycles. Amidst this swirl of young energy, we conference folks gathered outside an art gallery to drink wine, meet new colleagues, and find old friends.
I'd been at the party for about twenty minutes before someone asked, "Who's going to pose naked for you this year?"
I looked at Sky Woman. We hadn't seen each other in a few years and were in the midst of catching up. "Want to pose?" I asked. I wasn't even sure if she remembered the project, but she grasped the point quickly.
"Naked?" she asked. "Sure."
That's the level of cooperation I like to see in a friend.
"I just can't get arrested," Sky Woman said. "Or at least, if I get arrested, I need to be out of jail and on a plane on Sunday. I don't want to miss my plane."
"We're white, middle-aged women," I said. "We won't get arrested."
"That's true," she said. "We're invisible. We can use that to our advantage."
We decided to meet early Saturday morning before the sunlight became harsh. I asked Local Friend, who worked on campus, if she knew of a private place where we could take a discreet nude photo. She said, "I can't think of any. There are always people around. We have 90,000 students."
She said helpfully, "But if you get arrested, call me. I'm good for bail." That was reassuring.
I'd seen a place earlier that I thought was worth exploring. It wasn't exactly private. In fact, it might well be the most famous building on campus. My roommate and I had walked past it every day, and we called it the Fancy Cupcake Building. Huge and circular, it was a performing arts center designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
When we met up Saturday morning, Sky Woman said she loved the idea of posing with such a famous building. And the campus, as we walked along, seemed surprisingly quiet. Perhaps all 90,000 students were still asleep.
As we walked, we talked about the grey hair and wisdom that comes with age. "I have no fucks left to give," she said. "It's very freeing. I wish I could give that feeling to younger women."
Sunlight shone on the long curving walkway that led up into the building. About halfway up, we paused. We had a great view of the campus, with parking lots below us. Sky Woman stripped off her clothes and began stretching in the sun.
"I think yoga is paying off," she called out. The sunlight bounced off the building, off her skin.
"Woo hoo!" Someone yelled from the parking lot. We both looked down. Cars were pulling in, perhaps to begin their workday. A woman had stepped from her station wagon, and she raised both arms in what we could only assume was an encouraging cheer.
Sky Woman laughed and reached toward the deep blue sky. I snapped the photo.
Read more about the history of the naked blogging project and check out the gallery of photos.