Tired and scummy from a day at the hospital for clinicals I run upstairs to take a shower with small blond Chica trailing me with a clipboard, a pen and paper wearing a determined and serious expression. I invite her in to the bathroom and I hop in the shower. She tells me, “Um, you have to sign your daughter up for dance class and there are papers you have to write on, please.” I tell her I have to take my shower and can I do it when I get out. Chica replies, “Yes, okay. I can fill in some things for you. What is your name?” I tell her. “What is your daughters name?” I tell her. “How old is she?” I tell her. She officiously tells me to hurry up because there are some things I have to sign.
I step out of the shower and dry off chatting with her. My dear AUNT FLO is visiting and I ask her to reach over and put the wrapper from my sanitary feminine product in the waste paper basket. She obliges. She asks me, “Why did you take a shower? Did you get blood on you from the people at the hospital?” I say, “No. Just had a man with a PEG tube that went bad and instead of food going into a tube in his belly, he had poopy coming out of the hole in his tummy. And it was yucky and sad for that man.” She asks me logically, “Did you get the poopy on you?” I tell her no. She asks me, “So, why do you have blood in your pants?” I sigh and explain for the 30th time that, “Well, when a girl gets to be a certain age, her body changes and the place where a baby could grow, your uterus, gets blood in it and when you don’t make a baby in your uterus you don’t need the blood so it just comes out. Once a month and it doesn’t hurt at all. You will menstruate, thats what its called, when you are older. When that happens you have to wear stuff in your pants so its not messy.” I sigh again as I get dressed and dry my hair.
Chica sits on the toilet and looks at me smiling a bit and says, “You know, I was jealous of you once and I put toilet paper in my underwear to be like you. To pretend I had that blood too. I was jealous of you for that.” she finishes with a little half-hearted laugh.
All those little bits that mean you are a girl, those incremental changes that happen over time must seem so mysterious and looming. I have forgotten what it feels like to be a part of the tribe but not yet a member.