High Class Lady

A little re-post from last year. In case you've forgotten how insane I am. Also? I have a number of male readers so I think it is only fair if I include a warning of sorts.Yes, hello sir. I am talking to you. The next few paragraphs will feature the word, “tampon”, with some frequency. I understand if this is more than your testosterone driven constitution can handle. May I suggest a visit to the Dan Patrick website as a means of getting over the shock of seeing that word in print? With any luck his radio show will be streaming and he will be interviewing Brooklyn Decker (who I hate to break it to you…also uses tampons).

Bang Biscuit.

My brother competes in horse shows all over the United States. Sometimes Arizona, occasionally Oklahoma and, lucky for me, a month ago he and his ever lovin’ horse Abby, made the trek down to Las Vegas. Riley had watched the crazy seep into my eyes the few days before the competition and suggested at the very last minute that I drive down to Vegas with my dad to meet my little brother for the horse show. Just a little weekend away from the kids. I started to protest but the good husband put his hand on my shoulder, looked me right in the eye and said,

“No, really. You should leave.”

He may have been saving himself just as much as he was taking care of his darling wife. No matter. It totally worked.

The drive down to Vegas was all passing tumbleweeds and long talks with my dad. I only started hysterically yelling about the place of women in organized religion and the traditional home once. Okay, twice. Not bad. By the time we got to Vegas, I was breathing easier and ready to eat. (It should be noted that I am always, always ready to eat. It is a constant state of being.)

The Conley’s take meal time very seriously. Food is a language and I have been speaking it fluently since birth. So imagine my excitement when my dad suggested we all go down to the fanciest little Chinese restaurant on the strip. The kind of place that is all yes, of course’s and comes with prices next the lo mein that exceed my weekly grocery budget.

The three of us were seated at a table all shining red and topped with white plates and napkins and oh my, even the tap water tastes better in those crystal glasses. We teased my brother about his girlfriends and Dad suggested I order the lobster. Well, if you insist. I felt like maybe I belonged in that shiny bit of the world, sitting in a straight back chair at a table with multiple forks. Why, I thought, I bet the people here all think I eat at places like this all the time! They have no idea that just this morning I was coated in Del Scorcho sauce while trying to wrangle my three year old out of Del Taco’s play area. They don’t know that I slept in my clothes last week because I was too tired to get changed into pajamas. They only know that I am here with lipstick and a smile. Perhaps what they know is enough. Yes. Breathe deeply. This is where you belong.

Somewhere between the first sip of water and second course I excused myself to use the restroom. It was a polished example of the sort with counters full of smart little bottles of mouth wash and thin tins of mints. The heavy stall doors were taller than the pitch on my homes roof and opened into a space big enough to make my bedroom blush with envy. Just when I thought the experience couldn’t get any more decadent I saw them. Dozens and dozens of tampons stacked discreetly on a little table by the wall. What? This place is just giving away tampons? FOR FREE? What is this? The White House? (I really had that thought. Like somehow The White House is known for its generosity with feminine hygiene products?) I was gobsmacked. Without giving it a moment’s thought I grabbed a handful and stuffed them into my purse. I looked down at my bag now half full of stolen tampons and couldn’t believe what I had done. Was that really all I was going to take? I could fit eight more in there, at least.

I walked back to our beautiful, lobster bedecked table feeling pretty proud of myself. I just had to share my victory with someone and I thought that perhaps, just maybe, the men I was with would appreciate the triumphant tale.

“Dad! Daniel! They just have tampons in there! Sitting on a pretty table! Just waiting FOR ANYONE to take them! FOR FREE! Can you believe that? So fancy. Don’t worry. I totally took like twenty.”

The look of bewilderment on their faces was only matched by the look of disapproval on our waiter’s face. He had walked over to refill our glasses just in time to hear about my happy discovery.

Uncomfortable.

There are few things like being slammed back to reality by the censure of the person pouring your (admittedly amazing tasting) tap water. Alright, maybe I wasn’t fooling anyone. It was very possible that no one thought I belonged in that restaurant. Even more likely that no one even noticed I was there. Lipstick or no lipstick, I was the girl that was caught stealing tampons from a (semi) public restroom. For just an instant, I thought that the moment had revealed something deeper. Like maybe it was time to accept a life of spills at Del Taco. Perhaps I would always be a pretender in places that shine. Maybe just maybe it was time to…

And then I had a bite of the lobster. Holy hell, it was delicious. A few more bites and I laughed at the day. It was a pretty fair representation of the current point in my life. One moment covered in food in a ball pit with my smiling babies, the next moment sitting at a table with more money in plates than I make in a week. All of that and a purse full of free tampons?

Not too shabby.

Er my gosh, is Meg writing about her period? (Yes.)

I've been quiet this week.

Working my way through projects in the house. Sitting and eating lunch with the girls. Reading for the sheer love of it. (Currently, Gilead and Dear Abigail.) Believing in Riley and believing in myself. Hanging pictures and then taking them down again. Forcing myself open and accepting when I cannot do more.

In the quiet, I have found some renewal. I wish, as women, we would each grant ourselves space like this each month. In cultures across the world, menstruating women have been sent, or taken themselves to, spaces apart from their every day lives. Many times, the motives were purely misogynistic. Men forced their women away because they believed they would contaminate them with their blood flow. There are places where this twisted thinking still exists.  There isn't anything beautiful or spiritual about believing a woman can't cook because she will pollute the food if she is on her period. But in some cultures, the women were excused from their day to day existence because of a reverence for the sacred parts of womanhood. The place of respite varied but in the most understanding societies, the days spent away became ones of sisterhood and spiritual enlightenment. In many communities, those tents, huts and away places were the epicenters of radical and forward thinking female thought.

Brene Brown says that "Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creation and change." Every month, for seven days, I feel more vulnerable, more raw, more exposed to the complexities of living, than I do at any other time. And for so long, I've ignored the exposure, powered through the emotion, pretended the physical and, at times, mental pain didn't exist. But this week, I walked myself to my metaphorical menstrual hut. (Isn't that a lovely phrase? Let's call stitch that on a pillow somewhere.) I sat and felt and then thought and wrote. I let myself separate the irrational from the rational and in doing so found a few things that I would have missed. I was reminded of the spiritual that is intrinsically tied to the physical. And for the very first time since I was twelve, I realized that what I've always considered to be a scourge, just might be something that forces me to connect to something deeper.

I think in the past I have worked to separate myself from the spirituality of the physicality of womanhood because I find so many of its loudest proponents to be a bit off putting or other. I don't want to belly dance to find my divine feminine, I don't want to paint my body with the sacred symbols of other cultures in order to declare my womanhood and I certainly don't want to actually sit in a tent full of menstruating women. It's not that I judge the women that find place in those activities, it is simply that I cannot find myself in those things. But this week, after deciding the New Age doesn't own the market on physical manifestations of the feminine divine, I found a quiet place that was filled with light. And for the first time, ever, I am anxious to get back there in 28 days.

Here's to being a woman. It's a bloody, painful, grand kind of thing.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.