One of the first things I did when I woke up this morning was look in the mirror. Even if my groggy eyes hadn’t caught the full-length mirror in my room, as I brushed my teeth and washed my face, the mirror above the sink betrayed tired eyes and inarguably messy hair.
I hadn’t looked in a mirror in a while. I stuck my tongue out at my reflection. I hopelessly wriggled my fingers through the knots in my hair. I shrugged. I hadn’t even thought about mirrors in a while.
I just got back from a road trip. Two friends and I drove from Santa Ana, California to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington and back down to Los Angeles. We camped the entire time, and in campgrounds without showers. We were all a little dirty and maybe a little stinky. We were all a little too happy to notice.
Most of our mornings consisted of a sun alarm clock and a tooth brush rinsed off from our reusable water bottles. The closest I did to brush my hair was run my fingers through it (which admittedly, isn’t too far from my normal routine). I quickly adapted to not seeing my reflection and was therefore a bit taken aback this morning to find my face shoved in my face.
On one of our first nights of camping, I was sitting up in the tent, looking for my headlamp and water bottle so I could leave the tent and brush my teeth. Rolling over, my friend asked if I saw his phone. I handed it to him. “But why,” I asked, “we don’t have service out here anyway.”
“I want to take a picture,” he said, “you look really campy right now. Like this is what I think of when I think of camping.”
I laughed and buried my head in my hands. “I just woke up and haven’t showered in days and have no idea what I look like.”
“But the sun behind you outside the tent. And something about the lighting. I don’t know. It’s not gonna show up on the phone. But this looks like camping.”
That was the most I thought about my appearance all trip. At some point, early on, I looked like quintessential camping.
One of the first things I did this morning was look in a mirror and I wondered how many times the high school version of myself did that with disgust. I thought of teenage me spending hours straightening my thick and unruly Italian hair. I thought of how many hours people spend looking into mirrors and I thought of camping.
I thought of changing in the car and braiding my hair on the walk to the port-a-potty. I thought of the simplicity of the trip and I smiled. I don’t want to overthink it. I don’t want to worry about my reflection. I don’t want to be consumed by messy hair.
Back in a house with running water and fast WiFi, I am reminding myself of the beauty of tapping into simplicity. I am embracing what it means to “wake up like this.” Only this time, I’m showering more.