I missed the sexual revolution and the Age of Aquarius by about a decade, but, I've made up for it by doing everything else too early.
Now at forty(ish) I find myself launched into an odd form of time warp, my grown children think me old, my youngest thinks me ancient and I am feeling too young to be "middle aged," whatever that is.
Anyway, sometime just after fire was invented and before Kotex had wings and before my cousin and I got "the talk," we discovered my mother's box of tampons under the bathroom sink.
When we inquired as to their use, my auntie and mother informed us that they were firecrackers, and, "Put those things back where you found them!"
Try as we might we just couldn't light them, but we did manage to ignite an easily contained, but definite, brush fire in the back yard.
The years passed, as they tend to do. I graduated early and started college at 16, married at 18 and upon the advice of my physician (because I had an aggressive and chronic case of endometriosis), conceived several of my children early.
After my youngest child was born, and after having endured two laparoscopic surgeries that attempted to burn off the diseased tissue that was spreading like wildfire in my belly, I was given a choice: lifelong pain and possibly chemotherapy or a hysterectomy. Some choice, but the latter seemed less messy and painful in the long-run, besides, I rather like my hair.
Never mind. No time to get ready for menopause or any other type of gradual life transition, "the change" hit me full force like a loaded cannon, and I was the innocent bystander, trying to wade through the smoke and mirrors, trying to comprehend what type of shrapnel had left shards imbedded in my mind, body and spirit. I did not want to loose a part of myself, the ability to bear more children -- if I so choose -- what did it mean? Would I still be a whole woman? Would I need to get HIS and HER shaving mugs?
Oh well, when all else fails, a sense of humor is always my best defense, and this was definitely war!
My next strategic move was to revel in my new status of "menopause-dogger" and I boldly asserted my basic human rights when I inquired about keeping my uterus and ovaries so I could give them a proper funeral.
My gynecologist laughed at my flighty, "pro-peace with menopause, I have a dream, and the right to choose speech," then he recited numerous regulations concerning the proper disposal of bio-hazardous materials.
Great, my womb was now a hazardous material! I wonder what he would have called my meatloaf, but that's another cremation story.
Still, I felt that it was the death of an era and I wanted to mourn it's passage.
The surgery took only a few weeks to recoup from, but the feeling that I need a ceremony of sorts did not fade as quickly as the incision.
Now to tell this story correctly, it must be noted that our family has a large campfire pit in the back yard.
We regularly roast hotdogs and marshmallows around the fire and occasionally we light off a round or two of fireworks.
In a post mental-pausal hot-flash (no, it wasn't the girl hormone replacement pills -- and I KNOW it wasn't a surge of P.M.S.!) I thought back to my childhood, then I glanced over at the pit --
Yup! -- that's just what I was going to do! I would have a party for the remaining boxes of feminine protection. A private, by invitation only, wake for my little paper product pals that had outlived their usefulness. (There are just some things you don't give to your friends such as leftovers, namely my meatloaf or a half used box of panty liners!)
I gotta love my husband, he's such a overgrown Boy Scout, he had a nice stack of kindling all set up in the center of the pit, all I had to do was to toss a few logs, squirt a little charcoal starter on the whole pile and -- whoosh-instant flamage ...
But first, I set the mood with "Disco Inferno," blasting out of my tape deck (yes, I said tape deck, not record, not cd, give me a break).
The stage was set.
I tossed the match.
Lord have mercy (and ear plugs) I stood straight up, and had a sudden patriotic, overwhelming urge to start singing "Oh Say Can You See" and cover my heart, or salute or something similarly patriotic -- wait, what was going on? I had to laugh, the pit was issuing off a 21-gun salute!
No ... more like a 101 ...
No, make that a small string of 500 firecrackers, three bottle rockets and one small roman candle ... so that's where my Boy Scout stashed the Fourth of July goodies
Things were exciting enough until the neighborhood dogs started barking and howling and the kindly neighbor man (imagine Mr. Rogers wearing a pair of Nikes and baggy sweats and you've got a visual on him), well, he sprinted right over to see what the trouble was, just in time to see a maxi pad launch itself into a blaze of glory. It landed right at his feet.
I was hot lava red with embarrassment, and all I could manage to say as I exhaled and tried not to die on the spot was, "Gee, I guess they really do fly."
I never did get to attend a Dead concert or burn my bra, but I'm having a blast living everyday and I thoroughly enjoy the flashbacks of my life. And, like, hey man, it's been cool man, its been really cool ...
Jacki Michels is a freelance writer who lives in Soldotna. She sends out special thanks to Suzanne and Lori B. for rescuing her forgotten meatloaf from the oven the other day. Ya'all rock.
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