From Fastidious to Feral: An Evolution of Dirt
I’ve just returned from what would have been an entirely unremarkable experience a few months ago. I had what can only be described as an average shower, but today it was glorious.
Two disclaimers before I begin. I am fully aware that some people will read this post and it will reveal me as a high maintenance camper or even (gasp!) a glamper.
I am also fully aware that some people will read this post in absolute disgust and perhaps feeling a bit squeamish about our dirt ridden state of affairs.
But alas, I will share some of the realizations on cleanliness I have had in our camping life over the last two months.
1) Washcloths should never be white when camping. This isn’t for the obvious reason that nothing should be white because it’s impractical. Rather, it is because the white washcloth reveals the honest assessment of the level of dirt that we carried into the shower. It’s horrifying! After one particularly dusty camp site I considered throwing out the washcloth convinced it could never be cleaned again.
2) There are different kinds of dirt. Of course this is stating the obvious, but some particularly finely grained dusty ground can be a real pain to eliminate – even after lots of soaking and swimming! I had never considered the possibility that my skin on my feet may be permanently stained from dirt.
which brings me to my next observation.
3) I miss pedicures. Need I say more?
4) It’s been a gradual but continual readjustment to lowering our general primping standards. I think it’s somewhat inevitable when living outdoors, but there are moments when it catches me by surprise and I suddenly wish that the person I am speaking to could see what I looked like in New York when I was dressed for work or to go out to dinner. Not because I want to be doing those a things, but just so they know I didn’t always look so unkempt… You’ll be relieved to know I have not yet resorted to this activity… I think it would be awkward in the middle of the conversation 🙂
5) There are few mirrors encountered in camping life. Initially it was odd to go many days without seeing my image. Now it’s often a relief.
6) Campground showers can sometimes be a conspiratorial ally of the dirt and enemy of cleanliness. The bathrooms are basically never heated so if you are not in a warm weather, it is a torturous experience to take a shower in the cold – particularly without hot water! And worse, a gross campground shower is … gross…
All that is to say, on a day that I get a hot shower with good pressure and passable ambient room temperature, I am left with an appreciation of it in a way that I never had when it was always available to be 20 feet from where I slept.