The first time it came, I was waiting for it. It was time for my body to engage in its monthly release that would cause me to slow down, waaayyy down. The first day of my period has always been a dramatic event, creating a need for deep cocooning. The first time I understood that the feminine body truly needs support and rest during this phase was after reading The Red Tent. I began to reshape my rhythm around my moon cycle. I scheduled my clients and social events around it and allowed one to three days for my body to do as it needed. Sometimes it was to stay in bed all day or take a gentle walk in the forest. I had built a business that allowed me to arrange my schedule in tune with my cycle but most women don't. Most women are thrusted into an unnatural masculine rhythm of steadiness and consistency. The feminine is wild, chaotic and ever changing. When there is no structure to support our rhythm that happens 12 times every year, we must start creating it for ourselves, taking a stand for our bodies natural processes.
I daydreamed about a warm bath that filled the tub up to my collarbones as I attempted to insert my brand new silicone cup. My friend Ane had shared her love for the Sckoon Cup, which is healthier than a tampon, which tends to block the natural flow and most women leave it in way too long- I was always guilty of that as I seemed to think my tampons were the superhero’s of feminine products. I wanted to try something that would leave no trace behind because I couldn't imagine carrying soiled tampons with me through the desert.
I had practiced twice before beginning my walk and thought I had the whole process of insert, twist, and tug for suction down pat. It was 90 degrees Fahrenheit and the sun bright that afternoon. I was in a hurry with little coverage to block me from passing traffic. I waited till I heard no cars approaching in either direction and performed a quick and efficient insertion. I stepped back on to the tarmac feeling quite proud of my accomplishment in the bush and carried on.
My legs moved increasingly slower and grew heavier. My lower abdomen ached and I had to take my waist belt off and push Athena which slowly turned into me leaning on her with all my upper body weight. I was mainly throwing my leg forward and managing to balance on one foot while waiting for the next to take over.
I was headed for a station that on my map indicated had showers, the greatest delight after water and warm food.
The thought of just setting up camp and resting for the day had crossed my mind and caused me to stop and look at the landscape for possible camp spots. With no trees for shade I decided to just go slow and steady. Shower was my mantra.
I felt a familiar feeling of leakage between the legs that normally would have me shrieking to the bathroom quicker than Cat Woman. But stopping was not an option and I had convinced myself that it was probably just sweat between my thighs; after all, I'm sure I had inserted the cup correctly.
I rolled into the station just as the sun retreated behind the red hills. The exhaustion on my face must have been loud and obvious as they kindly offered me a free nights camp. I ordered a cheeseburger and went to set up my tent. The lady working the counter called after me as I headed out the door, "Are you ok?" and she points to my ankle, which is just slightly exposed due to tying up my pant legs to keep dust off them. There's a stain of dripped burgundy that made me question if I had cut myself and not felt it. I pull up my pant leg and followed the drip right up to my knee. Having had more embarrassing encounters with period stains I didn't get shy as I replied with a shrug and giggle, "Yes, still learning how to be on the road, it's like going through puberty all over again."
I postponed tent set-up till after the showers. Getting undressed I noticed that my inner legs were stained from thigh to ankle reminding me of a Pollock painting. I hadn't inserted it correctly (I know, Ane, I should have practiced more!). I said my appreciation for black pants and quickly hopped into the shower. I couldn't stand anymore and opted to sit on the floor and let the hot water pour over my crouched body. I ate my burger like a starving child and passed out with it half eaten next to me.
The next morning I was determined to try my cup one more time and I had a private bathroom to take my time and get more acquainted with my long-term relationship with this silicone device. I took a closer look at her, shaped like a small espresso cup with thick but malleable edges and a little rubbery tail that, unfortunately, I learned the hard way, is not to be pulled on as it will snap back like a taught rubber-band.
Legs steady and ready, a deep breath to relax all my muscles and I could already see my successful exit from this endeavor right before losing grip and it flew towards the sink, bounced off the wall and landed in a bucket of dirty mopping liquid. With my pants around my ankles I just stared at the bucket for a few moments before waddling over to peer over the thick brown water.
With a sigh that carried a vocal hum, I went fishing for it. I washed it and with grim determination tried again. With an air of pride that I wasn't defeated by an inanimate object, I stepped out, tossed my hair and proclaimed to the Grey Gallah's perched on the clothes line "Oh yeah- I sure did!"
Then I bought some tampons, just in case!