Friday, June 08, 2007

Bringing a Sacred Girl to a Sacred Place

A while back, I watched an episode of the Bill O'Reilly "comedy hour" during which Bill pretended to be scandalized that a teacher from a Northern state had vacationed in Florida, and while on vacation, had gone to a night club where she flashed her breasts for all the O'Reillys of the world to see. Naturally, Bill called on her school board to fire her. Bill is the Grand Old Prude of the Republic.

Somehow I got to thinking of that episode tonight, and along with thinking about it, recalled things I'd done that Bill would certainly disapprove of.

When I was new to Colorado Springs, I frequented a coffee shop a block from my apartment. The shop was near a high school, and consequently, the first 200 or so people I met in the Springs were mostly high school kids who frequented that same shop.

Several of those kids befriended me. They took to inviting me on all sorts of excursions -- from dances to rock climbs to road trips to sleep overs. Perhaps because I'd recently divorced, knew almost no one else in town besides those kids, and wanted a distraction, I almost always accepted any invitation from them. That's how, at 40, I ended up somewhat frequently going to clothing optional hot springs with high school kids.

The youngest of those kids was Harriett. When I met Harriett, she was a shy, quiet 15 year old genius bored to death with her school.

We met in the coffee shop when I walked up to were she was sitting alone and challenged her to a game of chess. After that introduction, she fell into the habit of seeking me out when I was in the shop and sitting with me, sometimes for hours -- but seldom saying much and never demanding my attention. Occasionally, we played chess.

So, I was surprised when one day her mother showed up at the place I worked asking for me. At that time, I knew Harriett only from the coffee shop, and then only as the girl who quietly sat away the hours on the fringes of the group I was a part of. But her mother revealed that Harriett had been coming home nearly every day to talk about what I'd said. In fact, Harriett had spoken so much about me to her mother that her mother now believed I had considerable influence on Harriett and thus wanted to meet me.

I started paying more attention to Harriett. I discovered, among other things, that she was exceptionally bright -- probably genius bright -- played the violin, piano and guitar -- was frequently depressed -- had an absent father -- had done modeling -- and knew nearly every artist in town due to her mother's participation in the local arts scene.

A few weeks after we met, Harriett's mother, Liz, and I got to talking about Valley View Hot Springs, and I think it was she who suggested I take Harriett along the next time I went to the Springs with a group of kids.

Valley View is located on the side of a mountain overlooking the world's largest intermountain valley, the San Luis. The nearest town of any size is 37 miles distant as the crow flies, and much further by road. At night, there are a billion stars over the valley in a sky so dark and deep you feel you sipped infinity looking at them.

The owners of Valley View keep the place as undeveloped as possible. You soak in natural pools, on beds of pebbles, sand, and moss. The wind sounds like a river rushing through the pines. In the evenings, you hear the coyotes calling to each other. Sometimes, wild mule deer come to feed on the grass by the pool you're soaking in.

There are people who believe Valley View is sacred, and they speak in whispers when there, as if in a cathedral. The perfect place to be naked to the world.

At the time, I saw nothing scandalous in a 40 year old man taking a 15 year old girl to a clothing optional hot springs. After all, Harriett was something of a sacred girl, and Valley View was something of a sacred place. It made emotional, poetic sense to give her the experience of that place, one of the most beautiful places in Colorado. Yet, looking back on it now, I realize both Liz and I were naive. Had word of that gotten to the wrong ears, Liz could have been charged with child abuse, Harriett summarily taken away from her, and I could have faced an investigation for statutory rape. People so often put the worse possible interpretations on things.

3 comments:

Ashwin said...

Man, you're just all about the sacred ground you call nudity, huh?

Did you add me as Ashwin to your account? Or does it do it automatically?

Paul said...

Hi Ashwin!

If you want to get automatic updates of the posts from this blog, just go to the sidebar and sign up your email for Feedblitz updates.

"Man, you're just all about the sacred ground you call nudity, huh?"

I guess to some extent I am. But it's not really nudity per se that attracts me so much as the nude lifestyle. I should do a post on that one of these days.

Schwinn said...

No, no. I already subscribed to the RSS feed.

When I wrote the comment above, it gave me the choice of choosing the identity of "Ashwin" which I normally don't use for this blog. I assumed you signed me up for your blog or Blogger, but now I know that a Google account is all that is required. I was signed into G-mail at the same time I posted and that's how the option appeared to me.