Across The Board

My Love for AANR

 

Last January I married my best friend. Jim Willard and I met nearly 20 years ago at Avalon Resort in West Virginia.  We both were involved with other people when we met, but we shared the incredible fun, joy, and friendship of a very special group of people at Avalon.  We picked up trash on the road, volunteered for projects to help the resort, danced with everybody at the dances, and enjoyed the Nudsino (I always lost money, while Jim always won).   The companionship, familial support, and caring  people that is part of every nudist club was the nurturing environment in which our friendship grew.

There came a time when we were free to see each other as more than friends, and spent more time together.  His children, my work, my AANR involvement, and his business were things that could have potentially taken a superior place in our lives or interfered with our friendship.  Millions of couples confront the same or equally important challenges in relationships.

But we had to deal with a couple of important questions. I was 50-years-old and had never been married.  I had been engaged a couple of times, but I came up against one major question. For some people it is politics.  For some it is religion.  For me it was nudism.

I was introduced (with major reluctance)  to nudism in my 30s, and found that it gave me the very things I had been seeking all my life.  It gave me a community, a family, a cause, and an idea that was worth defending.  

One of the fellows I dated came to several nudist parties with me.  He came late, joined the hot tub shyly, and grabbed his towel with gratitude.  “Just can’t do it,” he said.  And I understood.  There was another man I really admired, worked with, and shared a strong romantic identification.  But his work was stressful, demanding, and when he had free time, he wanted to relax.  After some very wonderful and loving months, he said that my passion, commitment, and determination to devote myself to nudist rights was something he could admire, but it simply was not something that he could fit into his own life.

That was okay, too.  Both of these men were honest and good people.  They understood something I didn’t totally understand myself.  They saw that for me, nude recreation was not simply a hobby. 

Being 50-years-old and not finding the person with whom I could whole-heartedly marry, I had not too unhappily accepted that my life would be invested in other things than a personal commitment.  I would buy an RV, I would travel to nudist clubs, I would build my cabin at Avalon, and I would invest in the mental, emotional, and financial commitment to AANR.

I still had some really special friends in the non-nudist world, such as my work colleagues, GNO (Girls Night Out) friends, and social/recreational groups.  One of my dear friends from GNO suggested that I broaden my network of relationships and maybe find the man with whom I could commit my life.  Her own solution was an advertisement in The Washingtonian. The man she met through this mode has been delightful. But when she urged me to follow suit, I voiced the one most important thing to me...I want him to be a nudist.  

It brought me face-to-face with the issue of what nude recreation means to me.  It is a freedom that I cherish, and am willing to commit everything in my life to fight to support.  It is not recreational and it is not a hobby — it is the most intrinsic thing in my life, and the person with whom I share my life must understand and share that. 

They must be willing to give time and commitment that would otherwise go to a partner and family, and totally understand that this time and commitment must be shared with the cause of making nude recreation a socially recognized and legally protected right.

Well, I found that man.  A friend, a nudist, a lover, and now (after 14 years of living together while I was AANR President and acting Executive Director twice), we knew that our commitment to each other, but also the importance of AANR and nude recreation, would be a part of our commitment sanctified in our marriage. Be happy with us!  And be committed to AANR!

Taken from the AANR Monthly Bulletin, "Across the Board" brings information and thoughts from the Governing Board of AANR to you. The Board values your membership and wants to make sure that it is doing what is right for the members and clubs. The first step is good two-way communication.