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Ugly Naked Guy

I have bared my soul to all of New York City—and I mean that quite literally. Bare naked, birthday suit. (Okay, maybe not all of NYC; but on this corner of 73rd street, they have seen a good amount.)

You know how in Friends, they talk about the Ugly Naked Guy in the apartment across the street? Even bring binoculars over to the window to see the intimate details. It’s mentioned in one episode, but Ugly Naked Guy was, once upon a time, cute naked guy. He had a few too many beers, a few too many late night pizzas, and voilà.

There are four apartments that face—or rather, look into—the living room window of our Upper East Side one bedroom. This is a common theme in Manhattan; apartments so close together, you can see right into your neighbor’s place. Jack and I would be constantly sneaking by, half clothed—risking it all just to shut off the AC in the ventilator by the window. Only a towel between us and the vantage point of neighbors who we will (hopefully) never meet. New York can be intimate, yet anonymous like that.

You see, I relate to Ugly Naked Guy and his character evolution. I started out in this metropolis young, hot, confident, body banging; definitely not afraid for anyone to see me naked in the window. I probably even encouraged it. But the years in these cities took a toll on my body and mind. I saw scars cut deep across my shoulder and my elbow. I saw myself gain significant weight. I saw my face begin to droop, ever so slightly, hosting some new, permanent lines. I found out what “skincare” was, and why women my age spend so much money on it. I felt biology happen.

But Jack, on the other hand, had a sharply opposite experience. As if to revolt against the physical and mental storms he saw me weather, he was suddenly insistent upon being his healthiest, youngest self. It started off with plant-based meals, a stark change from our previous diet of craft beer, dirty martinis, and spicy chicken pizzas. Then it turned to daily lifting. Then walking. Then running. (Even dual fitness trackers.)

Jack started to explore, at the biological level, research regarding human longevity—where we’re headed and how he can possibly contribute. While Jack’s “biological age” (he has an app for that) appeared to go in reverse, mine pushed steadily on forward. As a woman, I began to feel unworthy of my partner, something I had only felt once before. Self-conscious about my aging body relative to his boisterous one. The juxtaposition was clear to both of us—while Jack thrived, I was focused on staying alive. But with all of this, I am certain that the goal of life is to age, and to hopefully do so with some grace.

Like in Friends, this apartment we leave behind has seen a lot—and not just our naked bodies. Meals shared, from bodega Buffalo chicken to chickpea pita pockets. Friends crashing on the $30 air mattress, in need of a place of refuge from the harsh reality of the concrete jungle. Our 25% of a couch, that we never replaced, mostly because the other 75% wouldn’t fit in through the apartment door (whoever has it now: you lucky bastard). I can’t quite call it a home, because it never was to us, but a hideout where we could carve out our lives and futures in a land of rich opportunity and unabashed chaos.

With this upcoming move out of the city, I hope to treat my body as less of a hideout, and more of a home. I’ve learned the importance of investing in my space and making it become more than just a vessel for daily life; something my parents never taught me. I want the home I’ve always dreamed of—not necessarily big in size, but full of love for myself and our little family of two. I know Jack and I have the power to make this dream come true, and I pray Princeton will embrace us with open arms. Young or old, naked or clothed.


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