Eat Dirt

I once saw a Hummer on the highway that was the color of buttercream. It was hard to truly see the car’s color, because the whole thing was covered in mud. The license plate said “EATDIRT.”

I’m generally not a mudder.

I did go out mudding in my friend’s Jeep once. We tied red bandannas on our hair, filled Nalgene water bottles, and went out into the woods to see how far we could go. We had a great time getting stuck, but it’s not something I do every day. (Actually, I haven’t done it since then.)

I wish I were a mudder. I wish I were inclined to stomp in the middle of rain puddles and not think about whether my sneakers will smell when they dry out. I wish I could happily throw peanut shells on the floor at Texas Roadhouse and not think about the poor high school kid who has to clean them up at the end of the night; I wish I could throw my clothes on the floor and leave the shade half-cocked and not have it irritate me. My college roommate used to tease me by running around the apartment and leaving drawers open with a sleeve, a sock hanging out—I just like things in good order!

My friend E. and I were caught in a complete and utter downpour together as we walked down Commercial Street in P-town one evening last week, slipping inside small shops to buy t-shirts for our kids. The wind kept catching our umbrellas and blowing them inside out, so eventually we put them away and just got soaked. I was then caught in a second downpour two days later, arriving at a pool party when it started to thunder and lightning and so we all hovered together underneath square canopies on the lawn, rain spraying us from the sides.

E. is the one who told me about the term “mudder.” When I was reading at a document on her Macbook one day, I noticed her keyboard was filthy and the screen was streaky. I asked her how she could stand writing on it when it was it so dirty. She said, proudly, “I’m a mudder!”

Back when she was playing soccer in high school, her coach was frustrated by how tentatively some of the women were playing on the muddy field. He said, “See, look at E.! She’s a mudder! She plays hard, no matter what! She doesn’t care about getting dirty! But P.., on the other hand, is not a mudder!”

If I were there, I would have been in that “not so much a mudder” group. But I am learning. This summer, I’ve walked in the rain, stood in the rain, and even played tennis in the rain. I’ve found that if you avoid rainstorms, the rainstorms find you.

A few years ago, my son D. was studying women’s suffrage in school. He learned all about the women who were barred from the World Anti-Slavery convention in London in 1840. They were unhappy about being excluded so they vowed to start a movement. At a women’s rights convention, they presented a “declaration of independence” for women. But instead of them presenting the “Declaration of Rights and Sentiments,” my son D. thought Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott wrote “The Declaration of Rights and Sediments.”

That’s what I need. A Declaration of Rights and Sediments. I’m sure Elizabeth Cady Stanton would tell me today not to worry about mud splashing on my skirt. Forget the dust collecting on my bookshelves. Life is dirty, and we sometimes have to wade through crap. We may get stuck in a rainstorm, and it may ruin our new Ecco leather sandals. But it’s okay—there’s a reason why people don’t have windshield wipers.