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I Have Found It
Her door closed and her blinds open in order to let the mid-afternoon sun in, Eureka sat on the side of her bed with her hands folded and head bowed.
“God, I come before you as you created me: Naked. Laid bare. Don’t just see all of my body. See all of my soul. See what I want. Show me what I need.”
The silence enveloped Eureka like… Like clothes, she thought. And cringed.
Fabrics had become confining and uncomfortable to her. It never feels the same, she thought sadly. Putting on clothes, Eureka always felt as though a cloud were passing over the sun.
Her dad, like her mom, condoned Eureka’s choice to go naked. Eureka had told him this morning. Along with what had happened with the man at the nude beach. His response was like her mom’s: “You’re an adult. An adult who happens to currently be living with their parents again, but an adult nonetheless. You make your own choices now. Just don’t let your choices come back to haunt you. And, Eureka: No matter what you choose, your mom and I will be here for you.”
In the end, it had been agreed upon that, when Eureka was with her parents, she was to be clothed. But when Eureka was in her room, or in the apartment alone, or after her parents had gone to bed, she could be naked.
Other than the nude beach — I won’t go there, Eureka reminded herself — there was no place in the city, other than her apartment, where she could be naked. She could be naked at the public pool, in the women’s changing room, while she showered before climbing into her bathing suit, but: There’s a difference between being naked because I want to and being naked because I have to. At a pool, “naked” was a necessity: The state of being that one must be in while transitioning from their shirt and pants to their bathing suit. It isn’t seen as natural, Eureka thought, imagining all the looks she would get if, immediately after hitting the shower, she left the changing room and climbed in the pool. It isn’t seen as something to enjoy. Enjoy in a non-sexual way.
Eureka would be lying if she said that, while naked, she did not sometimes feel tempted to reach between her legs…
What stopped her from carrying out such thoughts, was another thought: I don’t want to feel like I’m reducing myself to my sexuality. Seeing my naked body as the sexual pleasure that it can give me does it a disservice.
Eureka thought, too, of the costumes that she had seen some women wear on college campuses: Reproductive rights protesters dressed up in giant, foam recreations of the female anatomy. If I see my body purely as a means of sexual pleasure, how am I not a “walking vagina”? How am I not what those protesters say a woman isn’t? How am I not what I know I’m not?
The only place other than her apartment that Eureka could think to be naked… was her church. Not naked during the service. Naked afterward. Alone. After everyone else had left.
The church’s doors are never locked. “God’s house is always open to all,” the priest had said.
And yet, when Eureka considered stripping naked in the church, alone, with only candles for light, she felt uneasy. “It’s not the possibility that a person will walk in and see me,” Eureka said to herself. “What a person does because I’m naked is up to them. I can’t control how they act. It’s how God will see me.”
Eureka sighed. “For so long, I thought of my body as dirty and shameful. And, I know there is a time and place for nudity: That I’m not meant to be naked at all times or in all places. But: God created my body. My breasts come from Him — surely He wouldn’t object to seeing His handiwork. Would He?”
Why am I doing this? Eureka thought.
“Because I want to look at God in the state that He created me,” she answered. “And I want to know that God is seeing me as He created me. In my apartment, alone in my room, it can be hard to feel like God really sees me — hard to feel like He’s really there. If I have a relationship with God, I want to take that relationship to a new level.”
Eureka opened her eyes and raised her head.
“Thank you,” she whispered to God.
For what? she asked herself.
The end of Chapter 4