the summer of 1991 was a big deal for me.
it was the summer before 8th grade and my reign as student body president. victory was mine thanks to a great speech penned by my parents wherein i took on the persona of stormin’ norman. actually, exit polls showed it was my empty promises of improving the cafeteria food that swayed the underclassmen voters. suckers!
it was also the summer my granny offered to do something slightly uncharacteristic: she invited me on a road trip! in her fancy car! to utah!
my granny wasn’t really the one-on-one type. we didn’t ever drop by unexpectedly. our visits were always scheduled and centered around a holiday, birthday or family event involving all the local aunts, uncles and cousins.
that trip would allow me my first visit to temple square. i got to stay right next door in granny’s salt lake condo.
it would also expose me to the byu young ambassadors. my talent for remembering random lds pop lyrics can probably be traced to that summer, much to christian’s chagrin. (i’m looking at you michael mclean/efy soundtracks/seminary music!) i could probably still perform the celebrating the light number for you.
you’d think that that was quite enough for one 13-year old to manage in a short summer. you’d have thunk wrong.
very much on our way, somewhere in the wide expanse of northern arizona, we stopped for lunch at mcdonald’s. before leaving i made a slightly nerve-wracking discovery in the restroom. my period had started. as in started started. like, the first time ever started.
despite the valiant efforts of my 6th grade teacher to equip me with knowledge and a starter kit, i was woefully unprepared. i slinked back to my waiting granny, got in the car and off we went. i watched as we passed the edge of town with gas stations and rest stops whizzing past us. i kept thinking that i needed to tell my granny but couldn’t seem to open my mouth.
after we had left civilization several miles in our dust, i was brave enough to speak up.
i started my period, i said.
okay honey, she said. we’ll just pull over at the next rest stop and get your things out of the back.
but i don’t have any things, i squeaked.
what do you mean you don’t have things!? her voice sounded strained.
i started my period… for the first time… ever.
panic quickly spread across her face. she floored that cadillac to the nearest town and marched me up to a poor unsuspecting boy at target.
excuse me young man, she said politely, where are your belts? (she emphasized beeelllttssss.)
i ran as fast as i could, and grabbed the first pack of maxi pads i spotted and was back at her side dragging her to the check out. i think that nice young man was still pointing her in the direction of women’s clothing.
one bathroom visit and short explanation on the evolution of feminine hygiene later and we were back on track for our great utah adventure.
i’m 21 years removed from that summer, yet, somehow, every new month with its unwanted visit makes me want to hide in the bathroom like that first time.
*my blog originally featured lyrics from pedro the lion’s song arizona. i found their song, the fleecing to be especially beautiful this week.