The first time I got my period was in 7th grade. I was wearing a corduroy knee-length skirt and thought Lightdays liners were substantial enough to be an effective barrier, keeping my flow from becoming a visible river. I was wrong, so I borrowed my friend’s jacket. It was Juicy Couture (a huge deal in 2002) and corduroy and I felt really satisfied that I was being given the opportunity to layer two sheets of the same fabric over my lower body. If this is what getting your period is like — borrowing your friend’s designer jackets to cover your stains, I remember thinking, I’m all in. At this point, I did not yet know that Lightdays weren’t actually pads, so I changed my panty liner, retied the jacket around my waist and went to math class.
At the end of the 40-minute class, I got up and started to gather my belongings when I felt a finger tip-tap my shoulder. It was a freckled girl, about three inches shorter than I, motioning to the puddle I had left on the seat on which I was sitting. I bled through my underwear, and my skirt and a two-ply jacket fasted tightly around my waist onto a chair that now resembled the remnants of a crime scene. No one made fun of me (or maybe they did and I just forget now), but I got to go home that day. I went straight to my mom’s bathroom to get a real pad (until this point, I no joke thought they were small-scale diapers for my youngest brother). I stuck one inside a fresh pair of underwear, got under my covers with a sleeve of saltines and spent the rest of the afternoon watching daytime television.
When my mom got home that evening, I expected sympathy but instead I got frustration because, as it turned out, I was now sitting a similar puddle of blood; this one had run through my underwear, pants, sheets and leggings. And that’s when I learned about tampons.
Nine years later, on the 13th night of my marriage, the first time my husband and I would sleep together not in a honeymoon hotel bed, I woke up nauseous around 7 a.m. to find I’d bled through his sheets. He looked at me, then I looked at him and we both emoji cry-laughed. “At least we know I’m fertile,” I said.
I look back now and my reaction is the same — all I can do is laugh at the sweet fucking irony.
Ha ha ha.
Collage by Emily Zirimis.