Sunday, August 06, 2006

My friend

At the close of a lovely yoga class this morning, dashing into the washroom after downing my yogi tea, my hands are quickly covered in blood. It's disgusting, it's funny, it's familiar. I remove the drenched super tampon and wrap it in oodles of toilet paper, trying to keep from dripping on my clothes. Dressed in yoga black, it's not as precarious as last night's adventure. After a lovely family outing to see Talladega Nights I realize I better hit the ladies' room tho we're just five minutes from home. My underwear is blood red, the stain leaked to my jeans. I have to manuever the tampon removal and yards of t.p. to cover the stain without soiling my summer whites. Remembering a nifty tip from a puberty book I bought for G. that I don't believe she ever read, I tie my ever-ready A.C. friendly sweater around my waist. John says later, "After all these years, can't you figure out a way to avoid this?" And it's funny to me that I can't. It's funny to me that month after month after month in this female life I've enjoyed that I'm still surprised and in awe of the blood. I'm always happy to see it. It's usually a relief from irritation and discomfort. The flow is dramatic and lively. Off topic here you think? In the 50s & 60s this monthly bleed was to be referred to as "my friend." For me, it has been.

I worry a bit about it's cessation. The cycle is so real with tangible effects. Which part will remain when the cycle stills? Probably not the titillation that ovulation brings. Certainly not the release and calm of the flow. I hope not the irritation and discomfort of PMS. The cycle grounds me in it's consistency and surprise. Will it come today? I feel it coming, I'm sure it's coming, damn, where is it? And the humor of the upkeep. I can't even count the times I've stained the sheets. Ooh, there it is again, the absolute familiarity and the surprise.

Good qualities in a friend.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You remind me here of Doris Lessing, writing in her great novel The Golden Notebook. That novel is structured as a series of notebook journals, and in one she talks about deciding to write down everything that happens to her in a particular day and then waking up and realizing she has her period. After some internal debate, she decides to go ahead and write about it, and does, talking about it with less enthusiasm than you do but still very frankly.
My mother called it "the curse," but that name never felt right to me and I never used it. It's like saying all women are cursed by this terrible burden.
Have you ever read Gloria Steinem's essay, called something like "If Men Could Menstruate?" It's so wise and funny - imagining tht if men bled monthly they would make it into a big status symbol, look down on women because women didn't menstruate, and be very competitive with each other about it. Very clever.
of course, they don't and we do.