Editors’ note: One of our most moving and beloved stories, “Naked” by Katrine-Mari first appeared in Dirt Rag Issue #62, published in November 1997.
I want to walk naked in the snow
I danced naked in the rain
I lie naked in the sun
I want to cry naked in a thunder storm
I scream on top of mountains
I swam naked in a stream
I want to tiptoe naked around the moon
I want to jump from star to star in my pajama bottoms
I want to paint myself brown naked
I want to fly in a bright orange douvet
I want to sit naked in a tree
I want to run naked in tall wet grass
I want to swing naked on a giant swing
I want to kiss naked in a field
I play loud music to drown the sound of my tears
I want to be alone
I want to sing naked
I want to bike naked on a road that’s long and straight
I want to blow bubbles naked
I wept in the candle light and had the salt water rest on my lips
I drank tequila naked in an attic
I want to paint a house naked
I slept naked in a barn
I want to eat naked in a field of cows
I want to be found naked in the forest
I want to make love in a sauna
I hated the world I lived in for such a long time.
I was sad that there was so much badness and hate.
I lived life scared and embarrassed of what I was.
I thought that no goodness existed on this planet.
Then I started to travel. My world was turned upside down. I made no plans. I packed my panniers in forty four minutes on the night of April tenth. I left “home” April eleven nineteen ninety five. My intention was to conquer my fears, to find true love and to search for a place to live the rest of my life. I gave myself fifteen years.
Two years five months later, I find myself still exploring the world for a place to build my home and someone to share life with. Many fears have been mastered. I used to be afraid to go out alone, now I love to. I was nervous of being seen unaccompanied in a bar. My first day traveling I spent my lunch time in a quaint little English pub, in the middle of nowhere, eating the best baked potato (stuffed with butter, coleslaw and cheese) I’ve ever had. I was scared of heights until I jumped off an eleven foot bridge into the Kicking Horse River in Canada. I’ve held a snake. I’ve caught a fish by hand, gutted and cooked it on a fire that I made. I’ve camped out in bear country, I’ve swam naked in pools beneath bridges. I’ve slept on a golf course. I’ve picked fresh strawberries for my sandwiches. I knocked on a farmhouse door to ask to camp in their field, and ended up painting their house and spending an entire winter living in the workshop, enjoying their hot tub which overlooked a mountain called Seven Sisters Peaks. Finally, I’m living my life and enjoying every experience to cross my path.
My judgment of the human race has changed dramatically.
I strive to be more aware and in control of my emotions.
My world was full of darkness, now the light slithers in.
I question constantly my reasons for life and existence.
Whilst biking down from Alaska to San Francisco last summer I rode six and a half hours through torrential rain. I was drenched through to the skin. No longer impressed with Gore-Tex, I left a fellow traveler at a hiker-biker campsite and went in search of shelter. The sign “BEWARE OF DOG” caught my eye and down the gravel pathway I wandered. I found myself face to face with a house and empty garage (a saturated biker’s dream). I knocked twice and waited nervously. As the door opened, I was licked by the dog I was being wary of and looked at suspiciously by a couple dressed as if they had just had tea with the queen. “I’m traveling around the world by bicycle, I’m soaked to the skin, I’m fed up, please could I pitch my tent in your garage so I can get out of the rain?” I was close to tears and would have let them roll had I been turned away. I was bombarded with questions before being led to the wonderfully sheltered, dry garage I was to call home for a night. My whole day was made. The generosity didn’t stop there. First, I was served crackers with cheese and salami, then came the main course of lasagna, garlic bread and salad. I abandoned my vegetarianism without hesitation. I received a candle, as my batteries had died, and a whole toilet paper roll. After oatmeal and tea, my water bottles refilled and the entire contents of my panniers and all my attire tumble dried, I arrived at the hiker-biker site early the next morning warm, dry and ready for another day’s adventure.
Imagine jumping star 2 star in pajama bottoms
Imagine juggling sand balls on a beach
Imagine crying out of fear and confusion
Imagine flying wrapped up in an orange douvet
Imagine a glorious summer’s day, the sun beating down on a gleaming biker’s body. Then imagine that biker on a quiet country lane, trees arching over the road, the wind sweeping her along, so that peddling becomes effortless. April thirtieth, nineteen ninety five, thirteen miles outside of Oxford, England. I find myself ambling along soaking in the world. I see a farmhouse ahead on my left. On the right, there is a house with three cheerful humans, champagne glasses in hand, about to cross the road oblivious to my existence. I shout hello so as not to startle them. Their smiling eyes meet mine, and I’m halfheartedly invited in for a drink. I pass by laughing, not sure how to respond. Two seconds later, I slam on my brakes, swing my bike ‘round, and begin to wonder what’s in store for me. I’m led into the farmhouse and am suddenly amongst thirty or so tipsy people enjoying a sixtieth birthday celebration. Voices in the room are reduced to a whisper and someone yells “Who ordered a stripper?” My face reddens. It takes twenty minutes, many visits to my bicycle and the addition of clothing to convince them that I am a genuine bike traveler. Two hours later I continue my journey, belly full of champagne, head bubbling, with a bag crammed full of exquisite salmon treats.
My name is Katrine – Mari.
I’m twenty nine years old.
I am biking on this world.
My aim is 2 share my life.
It’s twelve fifty three, I’m hungry. Rain starts to drop. My eyes are searching for shelter. I see a tree with a poster stapled to it. My brakes go on, the road crossed and up a stony road I go. As the corner is turned, my sight is diverted to the house above me. Then I notice it! Tucked inside a twenty nine foot tree, branches sprawling everywhere, a treehouse from heaven. The bike must be pushed in order to reach this dream. The door is knocked upon. “Please may I eat my lunch in your treehouse?” I’m looked at strangely. After the question “Will you sue us if you fall?” was answered, up the ladder I began to climb. I can see forever. The romantic low clouds creep silently by me. My peanut butter and jam sandwiches are eaten. Every moment is inhaled. I’m lost to my thoughts and have not a care in the world. The rain ceases and I scramble down. An empty jar had to be disposed of so the door was knocked upon again. A conversation is held for sixteen minutes before I’m led inside to share several glasses of sangria and help celebrate a birthday. I leave gigging.
Imagine sitting under the moon watching stars shoot in every direction – Imagine low clouds, rain, fog, snow, hail, sun burning skin, condensation, trees breathing, waterfalls calling, birds talking, bears, moose, elk, smells of flowers, wild and colorful. Imagine fresh baked cookies, being read to in the arms of friends, being sung to hugging a pillow warm and soft. Imagine walking, biking, hiking, running, dancing, white water rafting, boogie boarding, swimming, jumping off bridges into cold rivers on a skin burning day, tubing and boating. Imagine emotions wild and unplanned, crying, laughing, scaredness, alone, smiling, thoughts, friendships, love, hugs and comfort. Imagine 13 strangers naked, skin touching skin, midnight, raindrops falling, in a sweat lodge with pine scented water being trickled onto hot rocks. Then imagine 13 strangers running into a creek, mountains, 3 stars peaking through clouds, drying by a warm fire. Imagine all this and you have joined me in a piece of my travels. Good to have you along.
Katrine-Mari hugs x
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