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Bidding a Fond and Reluctant Farewell to the Itinerant Dirtbag Life

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Only one 12 months in the past, I wrote a facetious article entitled Dirtbag Lifehacks. I suppose it was solely half facetious— I had truly achieved all eight of my strategies, however I wouldn’t essentially name my grandmother to inform her about them. For instance, once I’m on lengthy expeditions, I typically sleep in precisely the identical clothes that I put on throughout the day. Sure, I’ve heard concerning the well being issues of carrying a sports activities bra 24/7, and when each pothole is frozen in frosty late November within the canyons, I’m not about to take my shirt off at night time. A lot to my husband’s chagrin, I usually depart my sleeping bag zipped as I counsel others “hack” within the article. I get so pissed off with caught zippers early within the morning or late at night time. My husband says he doesn’t catch his zippers as a result of he “zips a lot much less erratically,” no matter meaning.

However my dirtbagging has prolonged effectively past a couple of “life hacks.” Once I was 23, I used to be dwelling on a small month-to-month stipend (a selection that I acknowledge comes from quite a lot of privilege). I embraced creativity and frugality. I frequented the native Grocery Outlet (or gross-out as we used to name it) the place I’d typically discover low cost cereal that was about to run out. Nonetheless there was by no means any low cost milk. So as an alternative, I used water (or as I favored to name it “intern almond milk”). My sister, a designer in New York Metropolis, noticed me placing water into my cereal final Christmas and opened her eyes wider than I believed humanly attainable with a sluggish however highly effective, “ARE. YOU. SERIOUS?”

Do I nonetheless go tenting? Sure. I nonetheless adore it a lot. However for the primary time in my life, I like sleeping on our mattress greater than my Therm-a-Relaxation.

I wanted curtains in a current rental so I thumbtacked my favourite in-camp Indian Creek gown and my associate’s Worldwide Climbers’ Pageant t-shirt above the window. That gave us about 80 % privateness (hopefully the appropriate 80 %). Sorry, neighbors. One summer time I used to be working for an outside schooling group in northern California. Once I advised that very same designer sister about it, she was excited to set me up together with her pal’s mother and father earlier than my contract. They generously took me in, even when barely horrified. Once I confirmed up, I had a small duffle and a trash bag stuffed with my tenting stuff. I used to be planning to hire a backpack for the precise journey, so I figured there was no level lugging round extra baggage. They kindly confirmed me to my room, ensuring to level out the bathe (I took the trace). Once I awoke the following morning there was a curler bag outdoors of my bed room door. Uncertain of easy methods to correctly thank them, I cleaned the kitchen with all of my elbow grease. I nonetheless roll that pet round like there’s no tomorrow.

My associate’s truck was our house for a very long time. We received away with out renting a spot for the primary 4 years of our relationship with a slick mixture of sleeping within the truck, my sister’s basement, and the “lodge” that our faculty runs (nightly fee: $7.00). We had extra belongings— bikes, skis, too many puffy jackets— than match within the truck, so the simple cellular dwelling was made attainable by having a storage unit. ‘Storage unit’ may be a beneficiant time period for the steel cage in a basement that value $6.00/month to hire, however man did it really feel luxurious to have every part in a single area (even when I had foot a invoice so as to take action).


Picture: Akshay Gujar


It’s humorous how the low-level dirtbagging grew to become a chunk of my id, a supply of delight. Not “humorous ha ha” however humorous bizarre. It’s not one thing I’m pleased with or prefer to admit, however I believe there was ego concerned. An elitism tied to simplicity, perceived class, frugality. Just like the stubbornness of hanging onto a flip telephone effectively previous what made sense for my life. Sure, I believe we shouldn’t purchase stuff we don’t want. And no, a dirtbag isn’t higher than anybody else as a result of they solely personal three shirts or make curtains out of t-shirts. How a lot coal went into that artificial sleeping bag once more?

Over time, my selections have shifted. I began to make selections that my extra typical mother and father understood— I took a job in an workplace, I began to pay hire, I separated “city garments” and “area garments” (although there’s nonetheless a 100 % overlap in all sporty undergarments and protecting that city puffy off whereas I’m tenting could be very troublesome). The flip telephone grew to become a smartphone, and within the course of, I grew to become a extra dependable worker who will get misplaced much less typically. I began to place mascara on daily and bathe (extra) typically.

The ultimate nail within the dirtbag coffin got here with probably the most thrilling, costly, and irritating buy of my life: a home. My husband and I weren’t searching for a house, but it surely appeared in entrance of us and was too good to move up. A pal restored a hundred-year-old log cabin according to our values. Solar energy, stunning home windows, and the perfect neighbors we might ask for.

So, I’m formally saying my dirtbag retirement. Do I nonetheless go tenting? Sure. I nonetheless adore it a lot. However for the primary time in my life, I like sleeping on our mattress greater than my Therm-a-Relaxation. I get as enthusiastic about home tasks as I do climbing, and I discover myself convincing my husband that these two shades of white are so, so totally different. The previous me continues to be in there too; hopefully with much less ego. We didn’t personal any furnishings for some time, so our first “ceremonial dinner” in our new house occurred on seats product of piles of books and a “desk” of stacked reducing boards. And I’ll be damned if I waste cash on heating the home greater than it must hold the pipes thawed. As I write this I’m carrying a puffy jacket inside. Don’t fear, it’s my very clear and stain-free “city” puffy.

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