I don’t remember my first period in detail....
I do, however, remember the first time I was given the menstruation talk so we’ll delve into that instead.
Growing up, my sister and I shared the top story of our family home. Like a finished attic, there was no doorway, just a stairwell that led up to the space we’d made our haven.
We had some very unusual games that we’d played as most young kids did, and we were curious about sexuality as most kids are. But we had no words, concepts or ideas to define what “sexuality” was other than what we’d seen portrayed on the television by adults. Sexuality was very grown up, it seemed.
It was late one evening and my sister and I had changed into our nightgowns and were playing on our beds. At that age, seven or eight years old, much of my our clothing matched. My sister in pinks and myself in blues, at five months apart, we acted a bit like twins. We’d been best friends prior to our families blending, being sisters was a dream come true.
Earlier in the evening, before nightgowns were dawned and teeth were brushed, my sister and I had come across a giant and I mean GIANT bag of pennies. I’m talking, we couldn’t have carried this bag alone, kind of big bag of pennies. So, naturally, we waited until no one was looking and we stuffed the big bag of wonder under my bed until we were alone and could figure out what to do with all of these coins. And naturally, our ideas had nothing to do with consumer purchases.
So we waited. And after the dishes were done and our lunches were packed, our bodies were scrubbed and we were clothed in attire meant for dreamland, my sister and I headed up to our haven. Dealing with two boys on the verge of being teenagers, our parents would be occupied for a short burst of time and we could be alone.
We hauled the bag onto my sister’s bed and dumped out our treasure onto her comforter. It was glorious.
We stared at the mix of rust and sheen for a long moment before reaching out to touch them. I picked up a single penny, dropped it, and then submerged both of my hands into the cool copper pile. It was a sensation entirely foreign to me. I thought of Scrooge McDuck and the crew from Ducktales. From here, my mind drifted to all the images I had of money and the odd sensuality that accompanied it.
My sister was running her hands through the pile at this point as well. The two of us sat there giggling, minds racing with the stimuli of foreign sensation.
In a moment of impulse, I lifted a handful of coins over my head and poured them down over my head and body. Just like the movies. My sister immediately followed suit and in moments, we were on our knees laughing and showering ourselves in money. With images of a grandiose atmosphere surrounding us, we were immediately transported to a world of extravagance and luxury.
“Okay Girls.” she said.
My step mom turned away from our bedroom and descended the stairwell, returning not two minutes later with her hands held behind her back.
Sitting on the bed with us and our treasure, my step mom proceeded to tell my sister and myself about the menstruation cycle of women, what we were to expect and how to properly care for our bodies while going through this experience.
We sat silent the entire time. Having no idea what the relation was between us stealing pennies and puberty, we sat. In paralyzed anticipation. What was happening? Were we being punished? Why are we talking about vaginas before bed?
After a short while, my step mom raised herself off of my sister’s bed to leave. She left us two pads and two tampons to open up and look at in our own time.
As she reached the stairs and readied herself for the nightly fight of convincing the boys to complete their homework and bed themselves at a reasonable hour, she turned back to us and said “Girls, money is very dirty. You shouldn’t put it anywhere near your Vagina.”
And that was it.
A little dumbstruck, my sister and I picked up all of the pennies and replaced them in bag before crawling into bed.
We each pulled out the feminine hygiene products given to us and poked at them curiously until “lights out” was called.
That night I closed my eyes and drifted through dream land on a giant Maxi-pad, pockets filled with pennies.