This Love Story Started At A Nudist Park
Ten years ago, Tracia Kraemer wanted to celebrate her 40th birthday by trying something new.
So she mustered her courage and visited Indian Hills, a nudist park in Louisiana.
At the very least, she figured she'd return home with a good story. "I thought I'd go to Indian Hills, get naked, get dressed and drive off," she says.
But the people she met were so nice and welcoming, she says, that she decided to stay longer that day. "Soon after, I got a membership."
Two years after that first visit, she met her husband-to-be, Patrick Kraemer, at the park.
"It was our third date before we saw each other dressed," Tracia, now 50, remembers in a recent StoryCorps conversation with Patrick, 49.
"And that was a good thing, 'cause had I seen you dressed on the first date, I probably wouldn't have dated you again," she says. "You wore those two different brown plaids together, that was terrible."
"Do you remember the day you met me?" she asks her husband.
"Yes," Patrick says. "I seen a big, beautiful woman walking around. Very vibrant, very articulate, and I decided I wanted to meet you."
When he asked Tracia to dance at a party on the grounds, she decided to break one of her own rules: "Never slow dance with anyone at Indian Hills."
"We giggled probably for the first 30, 40 seconds of the song," Patrick says.
Tracia lets out a laugh just thinking of the memory.
"And then we fell into each other and started talking," Patrick says. "I don't think we ever separated after that."
Tracia says the bare nature of their first encounter helped lift inhibitions.
"I felt it was easier to communicate," she says. "A certain barrier, obviously, had been lost and we could just talk more openly than you would the first time you meet somebody."
Patrick agrees. "After 10 minutes it felt like we knew each other all our lives."
"It was love at first sight," Tracia adds. "But we had this issue with timing."
One week after they met, their relationship was tested.
"You really like to be early for everything and I kind of never been on time for anything," she says.
A mutual friend from the park had died, and Tracia was running late to the memorial service. In a mad dash, she pulled up to the park an hour late, deviled eggs in hand.
"I took off all my clothes, threw them in the car, grabbed the eggs," she says. "I was running past the pool, into the clubhouse, and I put the deviled eggs on the table, turned around, and everyone in the clubhouse was wearing their clothes."
"I was just like, 'What is this fool doing?' " Patrick recalls.
"At that point I really thought you were never going to ask me out again," Tracia says. "But you and I do a great job of balancing each other."
"That's right, love," he says. "Somehow you always figure out a way to turn it into something good. And that's what I love about you."
It all goes back to their favorite saying. "It's hard to be mean when you're naked," Tracia says.
"That's right," Patrick says. "I love you."
Tracia and Patrick married in 2013, and went on to manage Indian Hills Nudist Park for several years. In November, the couple took off in an RV for a yearlong adventure, visiting other nudist establishments across the country.
Produced for Morning Edition by Kelly Moffitt
StoryCorps is a national nonprofit that gives people the chance to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, at StoryCorps.org.