Dining solo and bathing nude with strangers

Tuesday night marked two monumental firsts, both of which occurred in Arcata, a college town on California’s redwood coast:

  • Sit-down dinner for one
  • Nude hot tub for three

Both restored my faith in humanity. Let me explain:

Sit-down dinner for one

3Foods, a local organic eatery on J Street in Arcata, welcomes all walks of life. Their mission is to deliver true farm-to-table eats. They’re locals who partnered with nearby farms to provide fresh, healthy meals. It was refreshing to know the lettuce in my “dark & gruesome salad” didn’t come from a box off a truck. All local, mostly organic.

But the magic wasn’t in the massive (I couldn’t even handle half), delicious salad I ordered or in the locally brewed Redwood Curtain IPA that accompanied it. And the magic wasn’t in the fact that I was eating alone, although it did feel empowering albeit slightly awkward.

The magic was in the couple at the table next to me who I didn’t notice. They could have been my age, they could have been in their 80s.

“They actually took care of your bill,” my waitress said when I asked for a to-go box. She pointed to the corner table where the couple sat.

They left before I had an opportunity to thank them.

I could go on thinking they felt bad for me, but instead I’m going to believe they were cheering,

Hell yeah! More people should exhibit that kind of strength and courage.

And that’s what I call “trail magic,” traditionally an act of generosity and warmth toward long distance hikers, in the real world. On the road magic, if you will.

Nude hot tub for three

I already knew Cafe Mokka‘s Finnish-style hot tubs were fully booked for the night, but I decided to swing by and hang out in hopes there was a cancellation. It’s a cozy joint with community vibes. And the fireplace doesn’t hurt. Behind the coffee hut hides tens of private saunas and hot tubs surrounded by ponds and greenery.

I was standing at the counter asking how likely it was they could squeeze me in when a young woman with inch-long hair approached me and said, “you can join us if you’d like.”

“No pressure,” she said. Then she returned to her table to play Scrabble with a friend.

I ordered a hot chocolate and mulled it over at the table adjacent to theirs. I only took a few indulgent sips of the densest whipped cream I’ve ever ingested before I decided: yes, of course I’ll join them.

After devouring my hot drink, I ran out to my car to grab my swim suit and followed the two girls to our private hot bath.

“So, we didn’t bring suits,” the short-haired one said once we reached the dressing room. “We weren’t prepared.”

A few thoughts quickly streamed my mind: what if they’re lesbians and this is their ploy to lure me into a threesome? and then, isn’t this a bit unsanitary? and finally, fuck it. 

“Oh,” I said. “Well then I won’t wear mine.”

And so I got naked with strangers. Me: the one who faces the wall when she undresses in front of her best friends. Me: full-frontal, all out, take it or leave it.

Their names are Megan and Bailey. Megan cut her hair short to help her let go. Bailey smiles with her eyes. Neither came on to me. Both are Arcata natives, students at Humboldt State. Megan has a two-year-old, and she’s graduating in December with a degree in communications. Bailey’s a sophomore studying learning and development, and she watches Megan’s daughter at the college day care.

Nude or fully clothed, people in Arcata are pretty chill.

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