I love dirt.

A prostitute once told me, when we were camping along the river with babies, that dirt is like sex. People are disgusted or afraid of it, but really we are born from it.

When I was a kid we used to go once a week to the laundromat for a shower. We could only go if one particular woman who let me and my sister shower for the price of one person was there. If she wasn’t we’d come back another day or we’d hang out for hours watching the television and playing with other kids at the laundromat. In the shower I would stand in a corner as far as I could get from the drain and watch the dirty water coming off of me. Dirtiness, in my family, was equated with hard work, and to be a hard worker was to be a good person. I would rub a bar of soap in my hair and carefully squeeze the water out of it into the corner so I could see how dirty the water coming out of it was. The dirtier the water, the better person I was.

Later, as a teenager, I would hang out at the laundromat and score free showers by taking them with people. (“Would you like me to join you in the shower? Okay, you pay.”) I’m not sure if this had more to do with my absolute prohibition on spending money or my tendency to abuse my own sexuality. Though, actually, most of those guys were pretty cool. Anyways, this was when I learned that not everyone thought dirtiness was a sign of good character. In fact, a lot of people think that cleanliness is next to godliness. I learned to stand right under the water and closer to the drain so they wouldn’t notice the dirty water coming off of me, but I would sneak out to the edge when I washed my hair to check out how dirty the water coming out of it was. It was my little secret pleasure, a private affirmation of my self worth.

I’ve grown up a hell of a lot since then.

I shower kind of frequently.

I have other, better, measures of my self worth.

I still think it’s a lot healthier to appreciate dirt than be disgusted by it.

And I just took a loong bath. I was dirty. It felt good.


  1. yay for dirt! let’s start our own tribe of dirt worshippers!

    you know, i dont mind dirt, actually even relish it, but it DOES feel good to jump in a cool clear creek and wash off, or even a shower.
    There’s nothing like getting REALLY dirty, and then getting clean again. Kind of like feeling both sides of the coin. Both to be appreciated and enjoyed!

  2. > let’s start our own tribe of dirt worshippers!

    I’ve thought of it before, that’s how much I love dirt…

  3. A friend of mine has a mysterious sticker of unknown origin on her secondhand bike that says “Girls Love Dirt”. My friend says it always sounded wise to her.

    I agree that we shouldn’t be afraid of dirt. Besides, potting soil is dirt. Gardens and the earth are dirt. Good dirt. Some people are not afraid to dig in it, to tend to the soil and let things grow.

    Thanks for visiting my site a while back, T, I have had an unwanted hiatus, but I’m back to posting now.

    And thanks for another great piece of writing.

  4. I love your site, and relish the van postings the most. I’m on my way to becoming a van dweller but am navigating sticky issues in my life first. Reading about the practical matters involved in van dwelling and stealth camping is my little escape until I can really live the adventure myself.

    I’m already a fan of dirt and earth having rolled in the pine needles and chased the rattlesnakes of my south Florida roots. No convincing needed here. Every day if it don’t rain (and sometimes when it does) I’m found hiking, hiking, hiking everywhere. Alaska is becoming real to me and I can’t imagine how you can ever leave such a gem of a place on earth. It will be one of my many stops when I circle the U.S. one day.

    Keep up the blog, it’s great. You’ll look back on it one day and it will put a big smile on your face.

    Earth Mother

  5. Tell me more about these shared showers. If I knew something like that existed when I was a teenage I think I would have lived at the laundry.

  6. What a brilliant writer you are! I often was very dirty as a kid and am happy to say my kids enjoy getting nice and dirty as well.
    Did you know, and I swear my sister this is true that kids who live in clean houses get more asthma and are sicker?
    Yup, its true.
    Enjoy your dirt. Its good for you.

  7. After a long day of digging in the dirt I enjoy a long hot bath, and then, drawing cartoons in the sandy scum remaining on the tub floor afterwards.

    Digging your bare toes into warm sand is simply divine.

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