Greetings, Naked and Clothed Ones!
Thank you, world, for your overwhelmingly positive and supportive response to my Pocahontas-Traipsing-Around-The-Wilderness gallery. I should go in there on Photo Shop and draw myself a bathing suit made of twigs and mud. It's really how I felt: as though I were living some primitive fantasy in which K and I are cave dwellers, hunting fish from the lake with our bare hands and sleeping on a bed of pine needles (ouch).
There were a few mildly-raised eyebrows that resulted from the photos posted there, as best characterized best by a good friend of mine: "I can't beLIEVE you posted NAked PICtures of yourself on the INternet! You better save them in a secret file in case your PARents find them on your comPUTer!"
Ahhh, a shocked and cautionary reaction that only those closest to you - your mother and your best friends - can comfortably express. Where would we be without those sorts of friends? Kind of like one of those, "your nipple is showing, my dear" comments. As with a lot of things, that particular post - and my friend's goodhearted remark - did get me thinking about deeper philosophical things.
Allow me to explain. But first, put on your scuba diving gear, folks, or pull up a chair at your favorite French cafe with a philosophical beret on your head, and get yourself a strong espresso. THIS IS DEEP, man. Deep.
To me, my friend's reaction was a reminder of two things:
1) The deep thread of moral conservatism that runs through America (seriously! It's everywhere!) and that I tend to forget about; and
2) The fixation our society has on rules, on constructs, on expectations that we live within those boundaries we've been taught to believe in. I say that not in a bad way (well, sometimes-sort-of), just in a way-it-is kind of way. Ours is a rules-hungry culture, with long-held beliefs about what men and women should and shouldn't do.
And yes - when you push those boundaries, you're going to raise some eyebrows.
One thing I've come to realize about myself is that I am not a person who hungers for rules. For better or worse, I like to push the envelope, bang against the glass walls of expectation - the "rules" - that hover around in certain social settings, and I don't have much of a problem with raising eyebrows when I do it. It's a trait that has also colored the way I've dealt with watching my parenthood-dreams melt away down the drain-pipe over the last three years.
At the time when Kevin and I begin thinking of having children, we were living entirely within what I refer to as "the boundaries." That is, we were doing precisely what everyone around us – our families, our friends, society at large – expected: married. Solvent. Master's degrees. Progressive-minded. Great jobs supposedly doing good things for the world. Fun, loving relationship. Attempting to multiply - which EVERYONE approves of. Our sex life was what I imagine the vast majority of American married couples have: neither rip-roaringly adventurous nor achingly dull. Conventional, predictable, and sometimes repetitive, but not bad.
And you know what? Life within this reality felt unquestionably fine.
But when the baby prospects disappeared, suddenly here we were - sitting gloomily and shell-shocked within the construct of marriage and financial stability that we'd worked so hard to build around ourselves. And for what? For whom? If not for raising a brood of equally progressive-minded and educated children like ourselves, devoting our lives to them from this point forward, then why?
It's this sense of being inside of an empty tee-pee, a perfectly stable construction of baby-happy reality with no baby to show for it, that's led me to fill that space with other things in life (like this blog, and the pictures on it). It's one of the common empty feelings felt, I would imagine, by KuKd and infertility-fighting mommas around the world, I would bet. This experience has showed me that the ever-touted marriage/parenthood/solvency equation doesn't always equal eternal satisfaction, no matter how fervently and religiously our world tells says it does. I also discovered how little control we really have over biological forces, and how bad things can happen to anyone - even supposedly "good" people who live within the boundaries our society has set up.
More important, from my KuKd experience I took away a more deeply resonating message that I carry with me still: that our lives are short and precious, and that every day of life should be lived as one's last. That - despite the losses of my past - it is up to me to make the most of what I have, seeking joy and vitality where I can, shedding my own fears for the sake of living. It's this principle of living life to its fullest - even when that means taking risks - that guided my initially reluctant decision to: 1) get naked; 2) get photographed; and 3) post my arse-crack online.
Who's going to come after me for that? Jesus? My grandmother? I doubt it. Morally conservative people who believe that a naked woman is something to get squeamish about? Maybe. I'll keep a look-out for them.
Posting arse-pics on the Internet is a risk. It's a risk that I accept, because it feels good - and because getting comfortable with my own body and sexuality has been part of what's filled that empty "tee-pee" I mentioned earlier. I could give you a long list of big and small examples of this anti-conventional-behavior pattern of mine has both helped and hurt me over the years. In this case, I'm going with it.
Now, for the record - I DO have a job, and it's a job that I love, with people that I love. I have mixed feelings about people at my workplace seeing my arse-crack online. Not a complete and terrifying concern, but enough of a kernel of risk-awareness to know not to leave that particular post up forever. So I'll let it sit there and soak up the sun for a bit longer, and then take it down for a while, perhaps letting it reemerge in a year or so. ;-)
Now, off to see what other boundaries I can tinker with.