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The Period, The Sink, and the Knife
Ruby Moon (she/her)
|
7.20.2021

Full disclosure: this is a storytime piece. Nothing particularly educational, just pure embarrassment that hopefully provokes a few relatable laughs.

Let me set the scene. Picture 15-year-old me, participating in a 3-month French exchange, living with an exchange partner’s host family and going to school. I’m excited, nervous, curious, and ready to use my most polite gestures to win over my new family.

This picture is of me arriving and meeting my exchange partner, Emma, for the first time. Her family consists of 4 kids and 2 parents who were wonderfully warm to me from day 1, and brought me in like one of their own. Although it took some time to get used to the cultural differences, and the language barrier, eventually, I felt very much at home. Although, there were some moments I felt out of place.

So, the story goes: about a month into living there, I woke up one morning for school. Lo and behold…I had leaked. Now, this wasn’t my first period; I got my period on Halloween of Grade 5, so leaks weren’t new but, you know, it’s awkward when you’re in someone else’s house. Anyways, I woke up and knew all too well, period blood on the sheets means soaked through underwear. Rushing to get ready for school, I quickly stripped my bed and changed clothes. I ran over to the bathroom and started rinsing the sheets – good as new, no problem. Next, I started scrubbing my underwear with soap. For some reason, I decided to put the plug in the sink; I guess I was trying to multitask by letting them soak while brushing my teeth?

(Hang tight – the best is yet to come)

The sink is full of red, period bloody water. I try to unplug the sink. The water won’t drain. I look for something to pull on above the tap, no luck. I try the plug again…no budge. I’m stressed about making everyone late for school and getting cranky (still hadn’t had my breakfast of French coco puffs yet!). Remember, at this point my French is intermediate, at best. In a panicked situation, however, it gets mangled. So, after a couple minutes of planning exactly how to say what I needed to say, I call Emma for help. I step out of the bathroom and warn her about the bloody mess she’s walking into and apologize for the gross-ness (15-year-old me still had some internalized stigma going on).

The two of us don’t make any progress so Emma looks at me sympathetically and says, “we have to get my mum”. Ultra embarrassed now, hungry, making everyone late: stress levels are high. Emma’s mum comes in, takes a look at the sink, then at me, then walks away. She returns a few minutes later with a butter knife and gloves. She proceeds to jam the knife into the drain of the sink and successfully pries it unplugged. Holding the knife, she looks at us, and with a sense of humour says: “I think we should probably throw this knife out” (in French).

I would love to say that this is my worst period leak story, but I’d be lying. It’s funny, isn’t it, how even though you get your period once a month for years, it still somehow surprises you, makes you feel all kinds of extreme moods, and is slightly different each time. I’ve leaked sitting in class, swimming, in a tent while camping, at the dinner table, and on fully white sheets that, again, weren’t at my house. It sucks every time, but I guess it's all part of the biological fun? Or maybe it’s just me and I’m a scattered mess…Everyone says that embarrassment is a fundamental part of growing up and grounding yourself. So really, I should be thanking all of my period leak stories for making me SO grown up and SO grounded.

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