‘coming out’ to friends. The expected and surprising.

As mentioned on the third  of this month when I wrote about the deeply embarrassing occasion of my having answered my front door naked to friends, Audrey and I invited our dearest friends to visit on Sunday night last.

Tea and biscuits were laid on, plainly too many biscuits but biscuits are such a comfort in times of high tension I find.

I had invited friends for tea at eight and by half-past we were all there.

We, Audrey and I, had discussed how best to approach our delicate matter and we resolved to first mention the topic of our nudism at home, then the fact that I did not indeed have a man friend, and then to drop the largest of packages, our romantic relationship.

The matter of our home nudism ruffled barely any feathers at all which was a surprise. Slightly embarrassed tittering and open-mouthed amazement greeted that announcement. Anne asked how it worked and why. Ruby, our eldest friend admitted, with a scarlet face, that she too goes about her house naked, since her husband Robert passed four years ago. The consensus was that nobody was fussed as long as they were not expected to participate. I assured them it was a choice, not a requirement and that we would not expose them to the embarrassment of being clothed while we went bare. It would be our own activity. We did add that if they wished to join us we would not object. All naked or none, that was our final consensus.

The next tricky thing was to extricate myself from the lie about my non-existent male friend. I found the only way was to tell them directly. I told them the truth, that I was naked at home and I had been expecting Audrey with whom I go naked at home. Having taken my home nudity in their stride it didn’t seem a bridge too far to encompass my answering the door naked to Audrey. There was some discussion about my having created a male friend but it was good-natured. We laughed. Antonia did ask if I had been seeing someone. The other were expectant and the moment had come. It was uncomfortable. I had no idea what their reaction would be to the news of Audrey and me.

I looked at Audrey. She was as quiet as the grave and slightly pale. She just nodded a very slight nod to me and a tiny smile.

My memory of precisely how it went is blurred. Audrey told me after that it came as a flurry followed by silence, a long silence. I can only recall the long silence.

Apparently I just came out with it, no pun intended, and said that Audrey had been a comfort since my marriage had collapsed and that we had found our feelings went deeper than either had expected. I said I did not know if it was a deep and abiding love but there are deep feelings that we have expressed emotionally and physically. I said that were are not ashamed of it and that we both felt our friends deserved to know. I said if they did not wish to be our friends anymore that I would understand but I would be saddened and disappointed. That was all I said, Audrey told me, and then the silence fell.

Clarissa said something under her breath that sounded like ‘disgusting’, stood and left. The silence deepened.

Ruby broke the silence when she said ‘well, good for you’. She said she’d never been tempted by another woman but that her thinking was that love is rare and she doesn’t think it matters where it comes from. The others just murmured and nodded their agreement. Anne began to cry and stood and hugged both Audrey and me. She kept saying ‘so brave, so brave’. Joan just said she understood but her husband would not so she just wouldn’t tell him. Then she smiled and laughed a nervous laugh. Antonia’s face was serious and she just nodded.

Michelle had been very quiet and was last to speak. She hesitated a lot and ummed and aahed. Then she seemed to gain a little strength, I could see it happen. She told us then that she since her divorce eleven years ago she had been having a relationship with her neighbour, Noelene. We all gaped at her, even Audrey and me. Michelle was the last one any of us would have expected to be involved with a woman. She spends so much time surrounded by male friends, at tennis and at parties. She has even been seen about town with a man, Geoffrey, at dinners and at drinks parties. Geoffrey is gay, Michelle told us. A dark horse, Michelle.

We have none of us heard from Clarissa since she walked out on Sunday night. I suppose she must be struggling to understand. Perhaps not. Perhaps she just can’t accept such a thing. She is a dear friend and I miss her awfully. Perhaps in time.

Audrey and I asked Michelle and Noelene for dinner on Tuesday evening. It was delightful. We spent the whole time exchanging stories and we promised each other that we would keep our knowledge of each others’ relationships between us and our little circle of friends.

Ruby visited on Monday. We all went naked. Now our little band of home nudists numbers three. I did ask Michelle and Noelene about it but they are quite conservative in their own way so they said no. Never mind. It is a very personal thing to do and I have no intention of becoming some sort of evangelist for nudism.

In the end, apart from Clarissa, our friendships have not altered at all; they have all deepened still further if anything. We have discovered things about each other we had never suspected and we are all carrying on as ever. We do exchange pointed glances, our little group, when we lunch, sometimes. But they are good-natured, cheeky glances, and that is rather fun.

Without being indelicate I must spill the beans on one thing, following that Sunday night dinner Audrey and I did enjoy quite the time after we had gone to bed. It seems our unburdening released a sort of genie from its bottle. I shall say no more about that at the risk of embarrassing myself, and you. Suffice to say the evening had not run out of surprises.

I am so pleased that everything is out in the open. Life in my little Monet house and out and about has become so much more breezy and carefree.

Until next we meet,

Kate.

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A brief tale of a mortified woman

Until very recently, if pressed to describe me, friends would have had me as one of the quietest of quiet mice.

What kind of woman is Kate?, you might have asked. Quiet, polite, shrinking, modest, might have been the reply.

One thing you could always have relied on me for was to be transparent in a room. I would have brought you tea but you would not have noticed me at all. If you spoke to me my conversation would have been as bland as a water cracker, immediately forgotten.

You will have noticed great changes since the time I began this diary of sorts. Things have happened. Things never happened to me before. I was not the sort of person things happened to and certainly not the sort to have made things happen.

Then your friend became one to drastically make over her house, then a nudist, albeit only in the home, behind closed doors, and just slightly later, a woman who enjoys the intimate company of another woman.

How does a person effect such a dramatic change in life? Shock, I think. Shock at being left, stranded like an orphan abandoned on a busy street in a strange town. One either adapts to the changes or remains frozen in place. With the encouragement of friends I began to adapt, and it has been an awakening as if I’d been in a coma for many years.

Now, to the point of what I sat here to write.

Dramatic change can be a wonderful thing, it has been for me in every way. However, dramatic change can lead a person to forget oneself in the onrush of enthusiasm. And so it was for me last evening.

At home baking biscuits and enjoying a nice, hot cup of tea and a book, the phone rang. It was Audrey. She was at home and wishful of company. Naturally I invited her over to mine. It was just before seven. Audrey lives barely ten minutes from me by car and she’d said she would be right over. So, I prepared a surprise for her.

Fifteen minutes passed and my doorbell rang. I went to the door and flung it open to give Audrey an eyeful of my naked body.

You’re ahead of me I know. Of course it wasn’t Audrey, was it? No, it was my little gang of five, sans Audrey.

Are you picturing it? Myself, stood naked for no apparent reason, with a smile on my face, and a huddle of women, open-mouthed, on my doorstep.

What did I do? I more or less cried out “be right back” and slammed the door in their faces. Then I ran for my bedroom, took hold of my bathrobe, slipped on my slippers and went back to the door, and opened it.

There were my friends, looking embarrassed for me and looking everywhere except at me. And Audrey had just joined the group, unaware of what had just occurred, obviously, from the expression on her face.

I asked them inside and while they were hanging up their coats and scarves I went off to the kitchen to put on the kettle for tea. Audrey followed me. She whispered, “what’s going on?” and I told her. She did her best not to laugh out loud but she couldn’t hide the glee from her face.

To her credit she finished making the tea and getting out the biscuits to serve to our friends whilst I went back to my bedroom to dress more appropriately.

How does one explain such an action? I mean, even to friends you’ve known for years, how does one explain?

Well, I explained as a person does in my culture and situation and state of high arousal, I lied, and I did it badly. Instead of being mature and open to my closest of friends, illuminating my affair with Audrey with confidence and brio, letting the chips fall where they may, I told them I’d been seeing a man and it was he I’d been expecting to arrive at the door.

After a short few moments of tittering along with mutterings of “oh”, “oh”, and oooh!”, the questions began. Could I save it from becoming more complicated? Yes, I could. Did I? No, I did not. I compounded the lie with another and another until I’d created an entire character of a man who did not exist, and with whom I was sufficiently intimate to throw open my front door in the dead of winter, at night, in the altogether.

I suppose had we been Continental, or younger, Audrey or I would have spoken up sooner. We would have risked friendships for the sake of honesty. Women from our backgrounds do not, however, take such risks, not easily and not without a great deal of thought and discussion at any rate.

And so I endured the few hours of probing and innuendo until they left.

When they were gone I cried. Audrey is not one to cry easily so she sat, stone-faced, in the armchair, facing me.

Not long after we went to bed, without a word, and held each other. There were no kisses or play, only the sound of each other’s breathing in the dark.

I think I realized last night that I do feel for Audrey and perhaps this isn’t a fling. We seem to have become a couple of sorts.

This pretense with our friends can’t go on, it’s too painful and it’s become ridiculous. I’ve spoken with Audrey at breakfast and we’ve decided to take the risk, to tell our friends. We’ll invite them for dinner tonight, our dearest friends, and after, over tea, we shall uncover our secret.

I hope by the end we have some friends remaining. It must be done though. For years in a loveless marriage I never let on, never said anything to my friends. I shan’t be doing that again. What they do with it when they know is up to them.

One needs love in one’s life and to express it freely. That I have learned and I am learning.

Wish me luck.

Until next we meet,

Kate.