We stood huddled in the bathroom. Our voices were low, barely a whisper lest a teacher heard us and ushered us back to the classroom.
"Did you get it yet?" one of us asked to no one specific.
A half dozen pairs of eyes darted back and forth in an effort to see everyone else's answer before determining their own.
When no one spoke up, it was safe to assume we all held the same status. That is until one of us raised a tentative hand, letting us know that she had taken the first step into a world we had only heard of. The rest of us gasped and congratulated her, but deep down we hoped she was lying. We were only 10 and a half. But now 10 and a half was different on her. In the midst of our celebration, we all wished the miracle would happen for us in the next 24 hours so we could be the next girl to raise her hand.
From the moment our teacher separated the girls and boys into two rooms in the 5th grade and taught us about the wonderful changes that were beginning to happen to our bodies, every girl longed for the same thing. The first spot of red to show up on her Minnie Mouse panties or pool in the toilet and signify that we were no longer girls, but young women. We checked for it when we changed our clothes, took a shower, sat on the can, or did anything else that facilitated a look down there. At recess, we hid behind the gym door and turned around to make our friends check for the non existent spotting we were positive existed. Cramps were imagined and bloating feigned in the hopes of willing that first period to fruition. Adults told us that there was no way to control when it happened. The best indicator was our mothers. I didn't want to hear that since my mom's didn't come until she was 14. I thought I would die if I had to wait that long.
In sixth grade, I watched as girl after girl was escorted to the nurse's office to pick up her first maxi pad after springing an unexpected leak during art class, music lessons, or phys ed. I hoped with everything in me, that periods would be contagious and I could catch mine too. My competitive nature wouldn't allow me to be patient while nature ran it's course. Age 14 was my albatross. The thought of graduating junior high school without a single menstruations was a Herculean tragedy in my eyes. Tragedy was averted a couple months after my 12th birthday. After waiting nearly two years to see the evidence of my womanhood, I didn't even recognize it when it arrived. When I saw freakish brown streaks in my Hanes for Her I assumed I hadn't wiped well enough after taking a dump. My mother had to inform me that I had in fact experienced my first period. I was absolutely estatic and called every friend I had to share my good news. While I wasn't the first girl to enter the Red Dot club, I wasn't the last! That was most important.
Thirteen years later, I want to kick my 12 year old self for being so damn happy about being on the rag. Five to seven days per month of cramping, bloating, bleeding, and mood swings for the next 35 to 40 years is not cool in the least bit. Unfortunately, women don't get menstrual days included in our sick time. Heating pads, Aleve, and chocolate have no place in a boardroom, so we suffer in silence. Tampons are expensive as hell and one box per period ain't enough. Plus, tracking its comings and goings is a bitch, since the tiniest thing can throw it off. Get a new roommate and it wants to come twice in the same month. Get stressed out at work and it decides to take a month off, which for most single women is NEVER a good sign. And for some women, it shows up when they desperately want it to go away for nine months. Then, when it finally does go away for good hot flashes and estrogen shots are left as replacements. If I would've known all this crap back in elementary school, I would've gladly held out until I was 14. Whoever gave me this scourge, take it back, PLEASE!!!!