Now that the days of me and my period are somewhat numbered, I wanted to take a moment and publicly state that I'll miss it when it's gone. It's been 36 years since that first one. The one when I didn't realize I'd gotten it but my mother knew by my stilted description of back pain and brown stains. She, who against my pleas, told my dad, who brought it up as a casual conversation starter at dinner, which still ranks as one of my most embarrassing moments ever.
Oops. I digress.
In spite of the leaks, the doubling over cramps, the at times intense mood swings, the chocolate cravings when more than once I gnawed on baker's chocolate to quell the desire, the 30 plus years avoiding swimming because I thought I wasn't supposed to, my period and I have shared one of the most long-standing, reliable relationships of my life.
It showed up in the city, in the suburbs, at college, on vacation. Whether I was single, dating, married, there it was. My hair permed, my fashion choices questionable, whether I was fighting a cold, healing from a broken bone, practicing yoga, or writing a book it rarely failed me.
It went missing once when anorexia got the better of me and the two times I was pregnant, then nursing. That first time, when my period stopped for no obvious reason (obvious to me anyway) I realized how much comfort I took even in the discomfort. How familiar, how soothing the routine was. How reassuring that regular occurrence was, letting me know hey! your body is working the way it's supposed to.
Perhaps I'm glorifying it a bit now that the end is in sight. Back in the day I was mortified every time I had to buy supplies. Petrified I'd get it unexpectedly and someone would find out. I hid it beneath embarrassment and discomfort. But as I got older (and wrote a book about menstruation), the shame fell away and I was left with deep appreciation that all was as it should be.
When my period finally stops there will be a void. Maybe the change will be for the better but from here it sort of feels like I'll be letting go of a comforting old friend.