There is always a first time. My favorite thing to do is sunbathe naked by water, preferably with a book to read. I seek out clothing optional resorts and beaches. How did I get so comfortable with being without my clothes? It was gradual, and I had to start somewhere. This was it.
1972 Summerland Beach, Santa Barbara, California
I climbed down from the bus onto a desolate strip of Highway One where a few cars were parked. The hot dry summer sun beat down on my bare shoulders as my sandaled feet gingerly found their way through the trash, rocks, and dry sagebrush along a faint path. It wound over the railroad tracks, through thick high bushes, and down the side of a cliff towards the beach. On that rough path, wearing only a bikini under my summer dress, I felt turned on and excited as well as a little vulnerable about this step I was taking. I was comforted by the familiar sea breeze and salty air, bringing back all the Sundays I had spent with my family at Zuma Beach as I was growing up in LA. But I was doing something my family would never do, and today the sagebrush scent smelled sweeter, and more open. I wanted that openness in my body, and this was my first huge step.
There were a handful of people on the beach—mostly men, and a few couples. I trudged through the sand to a middle point between cliff and sea, a good distance from everyone, and put down my towel. I easily pulled my cotton dress over my shoulders. Then I hesitated. At 21, with my long blond hair and slender body, I felt comfortable in my bikini, but I didn’t know how I would feel if I proceeded. However, I had my newly feminist indignation at the ready in case any men approached me.
Should I stay standing up? Then what would I do? I thought.
I sat down. I untied the back of my bikini top. It fell off my small breasts and I casually set it on my towel. Taking a breath, and not looking at anyone, I wriggled out of my bikini bottom, and put it aside. The sun could finally see all of me, and the sea breeze gave me a welcoming caress. Like a new, shy lover, I sat with my legs crossed, gazing out to sea, feeling awkward but being so glad I was there. It was as erotic as I had imagined. I lay down and let the warm sun have its way with me.