Is This Womanhood?

When I pulled down my underwear, that dark red liquid was the last thing I expected to see. I could hardly see at all. I tried to un-see it. I was standing in the last stall in the dimly lit restroom and the only source of light came from in front of me; where the door should have been but wasn’t because Baltimore City public schools. This couldn’t be right, what the hell is this? I was half convinced that I’d shit myself, no lie. Right before I accepted that as truth, I remembered that I was thirteen and had both full control of my bowels and the ability to smell feces. And I did not. My list of conclusions was shortening, and I was forced to accept the only one that made sense: I’d gotten my very first period. Oh hell no. Was I sure it wasn’t just shit?

I was more annoyed than afraid or excited or sad, even though I was all of those things at once. My mother and fifth-grade health class had prepared me for this so, now that I was sure my colon hadn’t collapsed, I had to get on with it. I forgot that my friend was in the restroom waiting on me.

“Girl, fuck is you dying in there?” she asked in her normal, annoyed tone.

I replied “I think I just got my period.” My friend rushed over to the stall like an excited older sister.

“Oh my God, you finally got your period!” I huffed as I did not share in that excitement.

She was two years younger than I was but was far more developed. Knowing that she already had her “flower,” I asked her for a pad. To no one’s surprise, she didn’t have one. I pulled more toilet paper from the raggedy holder (BCPSS please) than I needed and did the best I could with that. I was panicking and 100% certain that I was mere minutes from bleeding all over myself. I needed to find something for my situation quick, fast, and in a hurry.

We left the school heading down the street to after school camp and I immediately called my mother. Approximately four times. I probably left her the angriest teenage attitudinal voicemail ever as I tried to explain how urgent this matter was without having to say exactly what “it” was outside in public. I was really saying “please don’t make me have to call dad about this,” but the day had already decided not to go my way. I reluctantly dialed my dad while trying to put a good ten feet between me and my nosy friend as we walked. I was probably hoping he didn’t answer either, but he did on the first try.

“Hello, dad? Yes. I think I just got my period.”

Everything stopped. It felt like I had screamed those words from the top of a mountain like a Disney princess or something. My nosy friend fake gasped like she was on an episode of RHOA. In the middle of my embarrassment, I realized this man still hadn’t said anything!

“Hello???!” I called, my annoyance growing stronger.

“Oh…so what you need some pads or something??” he responded, doing his best.

“I don’t know, Dad. I guess. Can you please call Mom?” I sighed. Then I hung up. I would have cried, but then I would have annoyed myself.

A few hours later, my parents picked me up from the camp with the necessary supplies. I climbed into the car like I was being rescued from some trenches in Iraq. Then my mom told the whole Baltimore I got my first visit from Aunt Flo.

Looking back, I it was a blessing to have both of my parents show up for me in that moment of my life. It was awkward as hell and maybe a little embarrassing, but every time a little Black girl experiences a major life event with no trauma, an angel sings.