I remember the first time I ever shit outside vividly. I was in high school, very insecure and very into running. As a member of the track and field team, I wanted to stay competitive so I ran with my dog over the summer. There was a three mile loop from my front door step that took me down into a redwood forest and back through the neighborhood, and one day halfway through the run, my intestines decided to play a game of chicken.
I thought I would be fine, but apparently the constant bouncing up and down of my digestive tract didn’t help the pressure building in my lower intestine. It began to cramp and build such an explosive pressure that I knew I would not be able to fight if I held off until I got home. Nature was not calling, it was screaming at me.
At this point in my run, I was already out of the woods and in the residential area. I thought about knocking on a stranger’s door, but then imagining it being too late and shitting my pants on their front door step. Talk about a good first impression. And then what to do with the dog if they admitted me into their home to use their toilet? No, I needed a more simplistic solution. Panicking and tears forming in the corners of my eyes, I saw the local dog park which had a forested area that no one ventures into unless they want poison oak. So I ran with a fierce intensity into that wooded area covered by poison oak, clenching the entire way there, then finally I dropped my spandex, and watched the expression on my dog’s face as I defecated a giant pile of steaming shit that was about the size of her head. Shamefully, I pulled up my pants and ran home and that was the last time I pooped outdoors until my late twenties.
It wasn’t until I went on a camping trip with my new, but now close friend, that I became comfortable shedding my shorts and letting it all out in nature. Our itinerary covered every single National Park in Utah, a stop in Moab for the mountain biking, and a stop in the Wasatch Forest for the same reason. Little did I realize, that my new best friend also had and open relationship with her colon that she frequently loved to talk about. I was alerted to when she went and where she went and how it felt, every single time. I had never met someone so comfortable talking about their shit and so comfortable taking one outdoors. I would even go as far as to say that she preferred the outdoors to a porcelain toilet. At first, I was a little taken aback and uncomfortable, unsure of how to communicate that I really didn’t want to hear how good it felt to pinch off a loaf, but I let it go and ever so slowly, I found myself getting more and more used to it.
The following winter I found myself waiting in line at the REI garage sale at 6:15 am. Her birthday request, one that I could not say no to, even if her birthday was on New Years Eve and we had made plans with a bunch of other friends to stay out till midnight. That morning in the frenzy that is created by the dream like state of an REI garage sale, I bought a shit shovel and finally became responsible for my own waste. You could say, I started giving a crap by burying it. It was about five dollars, and the only thing I walked away from the store with that day.
While I am still not quite comfortable digging a hole in the woods, desert, or wilderness area, at least I can say today that I am prepared to do it and not ashamed to do it either, even if my dog is watching.