I want to be the kind of person who shits in a bag. Not like a colostomy bag–a plastic one, on a mountain. I should probably explain this better. Why don’t I start again?
When it comes to the great outdoors there are a few types of people. There are those who want nothing to do with it, who prefer city streets to hiking trails or eschew the outdoors completely in favor of four walls and a roof. Next, there are those who enjoy spending time in a park or at the beach, fresh air and day hikes, that sort of thing. From there we move on to campers, people who don’t just want to spend a few hours in the outdoors, they want to live in it, but perhaps with a few creature comforts like grills, car chargers, maybe even nearby plumbing. Then there are the truly adventurous, the remote campers and backpackers–those who would prefer to leave civilization behind altogether. These are the people who spend days, months, even years through-hiking trails and climbing mountains with nothing but the gear on their backs. These are the people who aren’t daunted by trivial things like a lack of indoor plumbing and soap, or meals that come in powdered form. These are the people who shit in a bag and carry it off the trail with them to preserve the sanctity of nature. I want to be one of these bag-shitters, really, I do–but the sad truth is I’m just not.
For all my love of nature and adventure, my distaste for traffic, machinery, and crowds, my hermitic desire for desolate wilderness–I am a creature of comfort and habit. I am an obsessive-compulsive creature who likes to wash her hands twenty times a day and won’t eat from restaurant plates. And now I’m heading to a school full of bag-shitters and I’m worried I’ll be out of my depth. Here in Chicago, I get to be one of the adventurous ones. People know me as a nature-lover and general outdoors-person. I sail and hike, paddle and climb–all manner of seemingly adventurous activities–but at night I come home to a clean apartment, a hot shower, and a home-cooked meal. Those bag-shitters will see right through me. They’ll know that for all my talk of climbing trees and sleeping under the stars, I can’t hack it without a sink to wash up in and a weekly load of laundry. They’ll know that despite all the hikes I’ve taken, all the lakes and rivers I’ve paddled, I still end those days of travel in a carefully chosen VRBO with a five star rating for cleanliness. They’ll know I only shit in a toilet, like a fucking pansy.
I used to tell myself, Just try it, maybe you can learn to be a bag-shitter. But, much like my forays into attempted socialization where, in a bout of temporary insanity I convince myself that I can learn to love spending time with other people (patently false!) before succumbing to my true, immutable nature–I fear that’s not the case. It’s something I’m learning to accept–this inability to shit in a bag, this limit to my adventurous spirit, this shameful lack of intrepidity. You don’t have to be master of the wild, or the boldest or most fearless. You don’t have to be the best at everything, I tell myself, while my brain laughs derisively at the sentiment as if to say, It’s cute that you think that. But what is the alternative, here? Actually shitting in a bag? Lord no–who would want to do a thing like that?