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Recently, several people were camped in my bed, variously knitting, fidgeting and answering embarrassing hypothetical questions from a prompt pack, the name of which entirely eludes me. American ice-breakers that occasionally assumed specific cultural knowledge, lacking in the German and the Scot (NFL players amongst the tallest omissions).

We revealed ourselves into the evening.

A boy called Tom once photographed me naked. Kind lens, warm night, demob happy in the week before graduation. High-jinks, doubtless now deleted.

Others too. We wondered where our naked pictures were, all hoping that exes were not malicious – or that if they were, we weren’t enough to look at, really, to make it worth their while to distribute us.

There was an element of pride. We are close to the meniscus capping our twenties, replete with edge-cares. People speak about babies. Some people have them. Amongst us, home-owners spring up, money arriving shrouded in mystery, the proper British way.

In bed, our margins were smaller, a four-footed plot of land enough to support only the lightest boasts, the unbuttoned ones. Talking to each other about the valency of our desire.

I am, I am, I have been naked. I have been naked and seen, regarded and understood.

Where the gaze bestows personhood everything is tricky, grainy with gender politics and validity, expectations of form and aberrations that facilitate erotic desire.

But encompassing, filling over and containing that difficulty is joy. A good friend, from her bed on the other end of the country, talks to me about Life Modelling: the time for thought, the friends she makes, the pride that her body, everyday and also marvellous, is drawn and painted, warped and beautified.

When she is naked, there, she is seen and then imagined, held in someone else’s eye. From her, a maze of angles and the light hitting millions of millions of cells that are skin [dodgy science] radiates out of the church hall. I like to think she nudes the university town.

 

 

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