After leaving the nudist community, I searched for many years in vain to try to find that sense of belonging I had left behind in Florida. I moved from one apartment complex to another and all I found were neighbors that appeared to be afraid to make even the slightest bit of eye contact in fear that I might be a serial killer or even worse, a Democrat. When I’d venture to say “good morning” or even “hello”, I would receive a blank stare followed by a rush to get in their door and then the sound of multiple dead bolts clicking into the locked position.
I eventually purchased a home in a brand new housing development thinking that I would be the force behind creating the community that I longed for. I was one of the first owners to move in, and as other homes were completed and occupied on my block, I would make it a point to knock on each door, introduce myself and welcome them to the neighborhood. I decided that my next step would be to plan a block party and invite all my neighbors so that everyone would have a chance to get acquainted. I made a trip to Sam’s Club and picked up gigantic amounts of hot dogs, hamburgers, soft drinks and beer. On the day of the party, I set up my grill and sound system in my driveway, preparing for a large turnout that would serve as the vehicle to kick off the start of the community that I had been dreaming of. Now maybe it was the fact that I had erected a gigantic illuminated peace sign as my Christmas decoration or that I regularly chose to fly a Tibetan Prayer Flag from my flagpole, but not one of my neighbors bothered to show up or even come out of their house to acknowledge my effort.
I later sold that house and moved to Virginia for a job opportunity. It was there that my amazingly accepting girlfriend came home one day and exclaimed, “I found the place we've been looking for!” We got in the car and drove to an unassuming beachfront condominium complex. As we pulled into the parking lot, I noticed a group of people (and their dogs) assembled on the community deck, cheerfully drinking and socializing with one another. I asked the crowd, “Special occasion?” and someone answered “Yes! Tuesday!” followed by the entire group breaking out into uproarious laughter. A beautiful young lady with long curly red hair and an infectious smile approached us and said, “You must be the folks that are interested in the third floor condo. Follow me and I’ll show you around.” We walked up a long winding staircase and witnessed the most amazing view of the Chesapeake Bay either of us had ever seen. She went on to explain that she hoped we would take the unit since it had been quite a while since anyone fun had lived up there. Now I’m not exactly sure how she knew we were “fun”, but she went on to explain how one of the longtime residents had made it her mission to make this a fun place to live. As new residents moved in, she made sure that they knew that they were invited to the party. Over the years, the idea just sort of snowballed with one cheerleader after another stepping in and picking up the baton. To this day, we live in a loving, caring and joyful commUnity. We range in age from 25 to 85 and I never seem to return without at least one person shouting out my name to welcome me home or saying something like “It’s good to see you! We missed you! Can we have a movie night this weekend? How about cooking out? Brunch on Sunday? It seems I have taken on the role of social director once again for a slightly smaller group of not so naked people.
If you’re like I was and find yourself living outside the nudist community, but yearning for that sense of belonging, don’t worry Dude. There are like-minded people everywhere and they are looking for a Dude just like you.