Me and My Friend

One of my longest relationships, and I can’t wait for it to end

Heather Quinlan
Nov 2, 2019 · 3 min read
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1984: The year of Mary Lou Retton and my first period, celebrated here

I had nine wonderful years without getting a period. Unfortunately, I was too young to remember most of them. And I’d only just found out what a period was before it happened. Thank God my Mom told me, or I probably would’ve thought I was dying. This was 1984. I’m ready for it to end now, thanks!

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Me blissfully unaware for another six months. My Dad not wanting to know.

I’ll spare you the gory details, A) because women know them all, and B) I actually want people to read this thing. I don’t believe menopause is a walk in the park, but my biological clock never ticked all that loudly, and the only reason I’d want to have a kid at this point is so I can name him Leo. (For some reason I can’t imagine having a girl but if I did, I’d call her Siobhan, an Irish name I love but which is next to unheard of in the U.S., so would probably be more like a curse.)

Speaking of curses, periods have all sorts of wacky nicknames, like the curse; Aunt Flo; your friend. That last one is what my grandmother called it, usually after an accident, of all things, which will happen when you bleed profusely from a place where not long ago Huggies dealt with all that business. (Though don’t get me wrong, years later there were times where yes indeed my period WAS my friend, my very best friend in the whole world, usually showing up after I prayed and dropped $20 on First Response. It felt like gambling — “Go, minus sign, go!!!” I’d like to think it was the praying that worked, but what kind of Catholic would that make me? Answer: The non-pregnant kind!)

People occasionally asked if I wanted children, and my answer had always been: I don’t think so, but I’d hate for the choice to be taken away from me. That’s exactly what happened. Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over till it’s over,” — at 45, it’s pretty much over. Yet as someone else once said, “Not to decide is to decide,” so perhaps my choice wasn’t taken away after all.

I have no idea what kind of mother I would have been. I have no idea what kind of child I would’ve had. I still think I’m too young to have kids. Inside I feel about 20 years old, even though I now need bifocals and my left ankle gives out when try to I wear heels. By the time my Mom was my age I’d already graduated college and was about to buy a house. She’d gotten it over with early. But she grew up with five siblings, I grew up with none, and never really understood kids. Still don’t. I’ve been thinking about taking a job teaching at a prison, because I’m interested in teaching, but less afraid of prisoners than middle-schoolers.

So this leaves me with a monthly annoyance that I swear gets more profuse the older I get, like it’s evolved into six days of Mother Nature’s vengeance. I’d thought that since I started menstruating so young I’d stop relatively young, but here I am. I don’t dwell on its implications every month, but I do sometimes think about how my Quinlan line is going to end with me, and how my Mom gets to see everyone else’s grandkids but her own. (Though she has never guilt-tripped me about that.) Did I fail as a woman because I didn’t, for the most part, want kids, and therefore didn’t have them? My answer is the only one that matters to me, and it’s “no.” Regrets, I’ve had a few, but I’ll never call myself a failure. I just wish my hormones would understand.

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