Riding the airport shuttle to the car park, I watched a boy of about 2 or 3 years cling to his mother on the crowded bus. His dad sat only a few seats away but to the boy it might as well have been an eternity. His mom attempted to soothe his anguished cries by deflecting the boy's attention. She pointed out airplanes waiting on the tarmac, a handsome red sports car in the adjacent lane, and tried playing familiar games. When those strategies failed, she reasoned with him in a comforting, assured tone, "They'd be off the bus soon," she said. "In their own car, just the three of them, going home." The boy finally turned away from his distant father and sunk into the security of his mother's lap. His arms clasped around her neck, his head rested on her heart. To fend off further doubt, the mother laid her head upon the boy's soft, blanket of hair, closing the circle, closing the wound.
I got my period twice in one week. Another sign that a phase of my life is coming to an end. (Or a new phase beginning, depending on my mood.) I felt a pang of envy as I watched this mother and child on the bus. Those moments are few and far between for me now; fewer every day. Most of the time I relish the thought of independence - my children's and my own - but at that moment, I mourned it.
I had a dream last night that I went to my hairstylist for a blow-out. As she stroked her fingers through my thick hair, the force of her hands and the dryer whipped chunks of strands onto the floor, their absence exposing irregular, vulnerable patches of scalp.
Isn't it funny how we spend most of our lives dreading our period? Before we get it, the notion of it is overwhelming and frightening. When we get it, we're curled up in tight, fetal positions wishing for the pain to go away. Only during the child-bearing years does it really sink in just what all the suffering is for, and even then, the arrival of the little red monster is still an unwelcome event. Until it's no longer shows up.
Like the schoolboy who had a crush on you, the one you dismissed, the one who became attractive as soon as he looked at someone else, you begin to desire the monster. Because you realize, suddenly, that the loss of it is the loss of a piece of yourself and maybe, if you'd paid more attention, things would have been different.
Monday, March 3, 2008
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