By Jia Lim

August 6, 2018


I do not want to be naked. The thought consumes me to the point of obsession. As we crunch across the luminous blue-gray glacier, as we delicately spear a rack of the best lamb I've ever had in my life, as we drive for hours in the liquid darkness searching for the northern lights, my mind churns over scenarios. You see, we are in Iceland, and we plan to go to one of those hot baths in the misty outdoors, with locals. Everyone has to shower before going in. Naked. Without a swimsuit.

In my same-sex high school, we’d turn off the lights and change out of gym clothes in our classroom. I’d perfected the fine art of shimmying out of my shirt and into a fresh one in approximately two seconds. We’d pretend we couldn’t detect the snow-white elastic bras covering our budding chests, and we’d pretend we didn’t try.

But now, for the first time everyone would see my pasty white flesh, the generous cushioning rounding my belly, my angular, severe hips. I gnaw on this.

Then the moment is upon me. I rifle through my backpack, darting my eyes around the changing room, my heart thundering. Murmurs of conversation, childish squeals, the harsh spray of hot water meeting slick skin. Stretchy faded underwear, varying amounts of unkempt or tufty or stringy hair, battle scars from childbirth. And the women and their bodies, walking not in pride or self-consciousness or defiance or flaunting delight. Just walking.

Comments (14) - Post a Comment
Love this! It captures so beautifully the vulnerability and self-consciousness many of us feel under similar circumstances. And the last line is just perfect! As is the title!
Ruthie Rohde at 8:45am EDT - August 6, 2018
Vulnerability is a beautiful thing. I just love this piece!
Lisa McKenzie at 9:52am EDT - August 6, 2018
So real. Thank you for the reminder that, clothed or not, we are all "just walking."
Carol at 1:33pm EDT - August 6, 2018
Oh, I loved this! I also hated changing for gym in the locker room, and after weight gain/loss/gain hate seeing myself naked, I appreciate the reminder we are all just walking.Thank you!
Gladys Strickland at 5:39pm EDT - August 6, 2018
Simple, delectable and sumptuous. I read it quickly, then slowly, turned on voices in my head and turned them down. I love it. *sigh
Belle at 1:35pm EDT - August 10, 2018
Wow...those last two words just closed this with the perfect gem of emotion. Bravo :)
Nisha at 2:06am EDT - September 2, 2018
"Just walking" -- brings to mind a quote from Ram Dass "we're all just walking each other home." Lovely.
Nancy Glover at 1:39pm EDT - September 10, 2018
Great job capturing how fear and anxiety can overshadow amazing things, like beautiful scenery or scrumptious lamb. I think it was an appropriate amount of build-up to the climactic moment, not too much, not too little. And then, the ending smoothly transitioned from heart-pounding excitement to the almost anti-climactic, but fitting, conclusion. Nice work.
Brian Schunk at 3:41am EDT - September 18, 2018
I love how this story portrays anxiety, how the beautiful things like northern lights and blue glaciers can be overtaken by thoughts of fear. And what a great depiction of fear, how it has been a struggle and how it continues to affect them. This paints a great picture of anxiety, examining how fears can take over one's mind.
Isaac Yelder at 4:51pm EDT - September 18, 2018
This reminds me of the time I went to Japan and experienced my first time at an "onsen," which is Japanese for hot springs. Not only did you have to shower before it, but you could only go into the onsen naked. I wasn't comfortable with this idea, and since there was nothing like this in San Francisco, my hometown, I experienced a similar vulnerability, anxiety, and discomfort you did.
Christopher Sung at 9:11pm EDT - September 18, 2018
The anxiety that you convey in this piece is a feeling so well known to me. Being an athlete, this is a feeling I felt many times while growing up and changing in the locker rooms. It’s a sad reality that we all miss beautiful aspects of the present due to feeling dreadful of the future. The vulnerability of this piece is also inspiring. The ending brings a sense of peace, and almost empowerment, after all of the initial anxiety with the realization that everyone is traveling the same journey together and “just walking.”
Kelsie Barnard at 11:42pm EDT - September 18, 2018
This is a beautiful piece- I admire the way you've choose the simplest, most effective words to describe the scene. Many feel the need to write more than is actually needed to get the point across. This is a prime example of how simpler is better. "Just walking" is a simple yet powerful ending that can't be replaced. Amazing piece, thank you!
Ryan Yoshioka at 2:33am EDT - September 19, 2018
Your words represents your feeling of anxiety while you didn't use the word itself. The images of glacier and driving in darkness are really impressive. And it makes people like me feel sympathetic on your experience
Jerry Shao at 3:19am EDT - September 19, 2018
I love how in one moment, all of the anxiety and judgement toward being naked in public vanishes. The image of the women simply walking, without fear or pride, is quite remarkable. What a reflective and intimate piece. Very bold to share.
Bevin at 1:21pm EDT - September 19, 2018

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