I am not sure when my first period was. Do you remember when yours was? Do you remember when you first got yours? What happened? How you felt? How you reacted? Was your mom supportive and encouraging about it? Your sisters? Your friends? Did you tell them when it happened? How many horror stories have you since managed to collect that have to do with the bloodbath that rips out of your body every month?
I remember when I got my first one. Stop me if I’ve told this story already. Ha, wait, you can’t. Too bad.
So we (my mom, dad, Mikaela and I) were at Sauble Beach for our annual summer holiday.
It was always such a wonderful time, I really looked forward to it every year. The beautiful beach, the fries at the Cosmic Fries stand, the tiny wee little “amusement park” that used to be up the way from the beach – just a potato sack slide, go karts in a circle, and a “rollercoaster” akin to what you’d find at the kiddies section at Wonderland.
We always stayed at the same motel called Lakeview Motel. It was nice enough. Small but clean. Lots of BBQ spaces and open fire pits. A pool with a sign that said “Welcome to our ool. Notice there’s no P in it, let’s keep it that way.” Ah those were the days.
That is, until the time we went when I felt really tired. And strange in my stomach. And I cried about something stupid. And I kept pooping. Like, a lot. And back then, before you came into my life, I was never hyper-aware of my poops, I didn’t keep track, there was no correlation between the foods I ate and the poops I had, meh. But this time, oh this time, I noticed. I noticed that I pooped a lot. The motel room was literally just two double beds and a washroom for the four of us to share. So I’m sure you can imagine how utterly uncomfortable I was pooping and pooping and pooping in a room where the bathroom was like, two feet from the beds.
I felt like a baby: just poopin’ and sleepin’ and cryin’.
I felt so awful, that I took an aspirin and actually went to bed early. The rest of the family stayed out and barbequed with the other vacationers, they swam, they drank, they had fun. When they came back into the motel room after I had been sleeping for a while, they asked how I felt. I didn’t feel much better. I still fell back to sleep for the rest of the night.
And then morning came.
Morning came and so did the Dexter-worthy bloodbath.
Actually, that’s not true. I just wanted to be dramatic. The first bit is always light and spotty – which is also what happened my first time. I went to the bathroom, and took yet another poop and looked down at my underwear, and then, oh my innocent, unvarnished, happy-go-lucky, brown eyes laid upon a little red dot.
To me, even at that young age, that little red dot represented the end of my childhood. The end of my innocence. The step into womanhood and all the weight and heft that comes with it: responsibilities, grey hair, rounded figure, boobs, alcohol, possible motherhood.
What else can you do when the weight of the world suddenly drops on your shoulders?Finish wiping from that last poop and then cry. Gently open the door and softly call out in the tiny little motel room for your mom to come over. Bring her into the washroom and tearfully tell her she now has one less child and has begun rearing a young woman. Sadly wait for her sympathy and find yourself appalled when she isn’t sympathetic but laughs and sounds positively delighted.
“But I’m bleeding! Actual blood! And mom, I don’t want to be a woman!” I remember saying in reaction to her triumphant smile. To which she replied, “every girl must become a woman. And there are so many great things that come with being a woman!” To this day I don’t remember if she explained what those great things were, nor am I sure I’ve ever figured it out for myself either.
So my mom went to her purse and grabbed a spare pad that felt more like a diaper – this foreign, adult thing in my underwear. She told me she had tampons if I wanted to try one but she understood if it was too soon. In my mind, as much as I knew a tampon wasn’t the same as sex, refusing to stick anything up there was a last desperate cling to my childhood.
After giving me the pad and describing more or less how to apply it, she left the bathroom. I stayed in there, hoping if I didn’t leave then maybe it never really happened. As if opening the door and stepping through the doorway would let out my youth like the steam that escapes after a hot shower.
When I finally cracked open that door, the first thing to greet me was a flash. The flash of a camera forever capturing the moment I stepped into womanhood:
I don’t know what happened for the rest of the vacation. I wouldn’t have swam in the ool or in the beach. I probably ate some Maple Lodge chicken dogs off the fire. Maybe I stuck some extra chocolate on my s’mores. Probably took another aspirin or two. And maybe eventually, began to accept that every girl must become a woman.