I just got back from a Labor Day weekend camping trip. Did you go camping over Labor Day? It seems that’s what everyone does on this particular holiday, at least up here in the good ‘ole Pacific Northwest. We were up by Mt. Rainier and boy, was it fun/dirty. I mean, fun. I mean: dirty.
I had dirt in my hair and in my ears and in my peg-legged Lucky jeans that I got at Ross a few years ago and really aren’t all that cute, but they say “Lucky” on them and have the cute shamrock pocket lining and were only thirty dollars and that’s a small price to pay to feel hip and young. Hence, they are now my Cleaning the Garage/Camping Jeans. But I digress.
I had dirt in my eyelids, under my fingernails, and between my toes. My previously lime-green flipflops turned khaki-colored from the dirt that was encrusted on them by the end of Day One. I had dirt behind my knees and between my teeth and under my tongue. A fine mist of dirt settled upon the inside of the camper in which we slept, seeping into our pillows and blankets, jammies and socks. Large dirtclods replaced what had once been my children. On Day Two I looked up and saw them standing a ways off facing me, three brown figures in a row, lined up by size like Goldilock’s bears. I waved and called out to them, but they just stared past me with a blank look on their dark faces, seemingly intent on the dirt their cousins were kicking up before them. This moment should have motivated me to wash them up, but that seemed like a heckuva lot of work. Besides, the only thing worse than dirty kids is muddy kids, which is all that “camping showers” (talk about a euphamism) can usually offer. So I just yelled at them to enjoy their dirtiness until we got home, and that I would be by the campfire reading my book, not to be disturbed for awhile, thankyouverymuch. The Dirtclods nodded silently back to me, mouths hanging open. (I think I saw a little dirt spilling out of Ethan’s lower lip about then. No wonder he couldn’t talk.)
I woke up on Day Three in my dirty bed and thought of only two things:
1. I wish we had another day to ride bikes, go on hikes to bridges and waterfalls, play games, eat junk, and sit by the campfire.
2. Only 240 minutes until I will be standing in my own white, shiny, spotlessly clean shower. (That included packing and travel time.)
For all the talk about “roughing it” in an attempt to get back to our natural state, I personally have decided that human beings are just not meant to be that dirty. How did this become virtuous? I feel a need, as a wife and mother, to prove my Fun Factor by showing that I can handle–even enjoy–the dirt. My kids have no idea it bothers me. But I’m gonna confide in you right now, my three faithfuls: I do not like the dirt. It is uncomfortable. It is itchy. It is sticky. It is icky. It is far, far away from cleanliness, which, we are told, is next to godliness. So if we visit Mother Nature to get in touch with our Divine Nature, then–and this is according to scripture, which, as you know, is where I get all of my ideas–shouldn’t it be a lot cleaner out there? In fact, I thought the earth was supposed to have been immaculate until we nasty humans nasted it up. If so, then why isn’t the earth in its untouched, pristine state–ala Mt. Rainier–more, well, pristine? I need to talk this over with an environmentalist, but I don’t know any. (I may live in the Pacific Northwest, but I also live by a nuclear power plant. Not a lot of tree-huggers in these parts.)
Do you hug trees? Do you like to camp? Do you live by a nuclear power plant? (I’m just throwing that last question in for fun. If you do, let’s talk. I may have some shampoo that can help.) I’ve decided that I do not hug trees, I do like to camp, I do live by a nuclear power plant, and I do hate The Dirt. But my husband and my kids love The Dirt, and I love them, and I love watching them get dirty together. And most of all, I lovelovelove coming home to my cleancleanclean shower and getting all of that dirt off of me. The high after that wash-up is almost as intense as what you get after running a marathon, but with none of the training. And between three months of running and three days of dirt, I just might take the running. At least sweat runs clear.