Bidding a Fond and Reluctant Farewell to the Itinerant Dirtbag Life

Only one 12 months in the past, I wrote a facetious article entitled Dirtbag Lifehacks. I suppose it was solely half facetious— I had really executed all eight of my solutions, 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 through the day. Sure, I’ve heard concerning the well being considerations 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 evening. A lot to my husband’s chagrin, I sometimes depart my sleeping bag zipped as I counsel others “hack” within the article. I get so annoyed with caught zippers early within the morning or late at evening. 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 just a few “life hacks.” After I was 23, I used to be dwelling on a small month-to-month stipend (a selection that I acknowledge comes from lots 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 a substitute, I used water (or as I preferred 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 assumed humanly doable with a gradual 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 really like sleeping on our mattress greater than my Therm-a-Relaxation.

I wanted curtains in a latest rental so I thumbtacked my favourite in-camp Indian Creek costume and my companion’s Worldwide Climbers’ Competition t-shirt above the window. That gave us about 80 % privateness (hopefully the appropriate 80 %). Sorry, neighbors. One summer season I used to be working for an outside training group in northern California. After I instructed that very same designer sister about it, she was excited to set me up together with her buddy’s mother and father earlier than my contract. They generously took me in, even when barely horrified. After I confirmed up, I had a small duffle and a trash bag filled 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). After I awoke the following morning there was a curler bag exterior 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 companion’s truck was our residence for a very long time. We acquired 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 college runs (nightly price: $7.00). We had extra belongings— bikes, skis, too many puffy jackets— than match within the truck, so the straightforward cellular dwelling was made doable by having a storage unit. ‘Storage unit’ may be a beneficiant time period for the metallic cage in a basement that price $6.00/month to hire, however man did it really feel luxurious to have every part in a single house (even when I had foot a invoice so as to take action).


Photograph: Akshay Gujar


It’s humorous how the low-level dirtbagging grew to become a bit of my id, a supply of satisfaction. Not “humorous ha ha” however humorous bizarre. It’s not one thing I’m pleased with or wish 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 cellphone 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 decisions have shifted. I began to make choices that my extra standard 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 holding that city puffy off whereas I’m tenting may be very troublesome). The flip cellphone 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 essentially the most thrilling, costly, and aggravating buy of my life: a home. My husband and I weren’t searching for a house, nevertheless it appeared in entrance of us and was too good to go up. A buddy restored a hundred-year-old log cabin consistent with our values. Solar energy, lovely home windows, and the most effective neighbors we may 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 really 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 completely different. The previous me remains to be in there too; hopefully with much less ego. We didn’t personal any furnishings for some time, so our first “feast” in our new residence occurred on seats fabricated from piles of books and a “desk” of stacked slicing 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *