I remember a photo of me as a child running around naked in my family's house as a young boy. I had forgotten that I'd done so, and was a little surprised, as I'd never have considered doing so at twelve, when the photo showed up. I looked quite at ease about it, as though there were nothing at all strange going on. And there wasn't, at the time. It was perfectly natural and normal. At least in the confines -- and privacy -- of closed doors, and under the protection of childhood. (I had at least that sort of protection.)
One day, as a teenager, a beautiful, lithe, teen girl came up out of the brush at the river, completely naked, and amongst a bunch of teen boys (of which I was one) who were swinging into the river from a rope tied to a tree -- releasing the rope and plunging ten or twelve feet to the depth of water below. We all wore swimming trunks, and her appearance was almost precisely as startling and strange as if she'd been an alien crawling out of a flying saucer, with tentacles drooping and dangling from her head.
It was our job not to let her or the others see how befuddling strange the situation was. We performed our role in this play perfectly! For her, it was obvious that naked teen girls among teen boys in swim trunks was as natural
as the patchouli, granola, sandals, and tie-dyed t-shirts we were less exposed to, and we didn't want our reluctant inculcated prudishness or thunderstruck startlement to disuade her from our presence. It was a moment of the sort Leonard Cohen had sung about.: "There is a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in."
That same light appeared when I went to a female friend's apartment one day, years and years later..., knocked, and she opened the door with the light all over her, just so. I did not think to join her beside the window-shaped patch of floor-sun-light dressed just as she. I wonder how that
would have went?
And later still in years I found myself among dozens of naked men in a forest grove! Gradually, it became natural again, being naked among naked others, just like that. As if we were salmon, or otters!
Wait a minute! I was not "running around naked" in that photo, but only just standing there... or was I sitting? I don't remember, and haven't seen that photo (now missing) in decades. I said "running around naked" out of some dark habit borne of the encroachment of "normality" where naked sunlight--via Cohen's "crack"--ought to be. Naked people, we learn growing up, must be "running around" that way, unless their nakedness is hidden. In a bed room. Where it's normal.