I just took a bath and had the distinct memory of being in my mother's womb, wanting to be born so that I could experience all of the life that goes along with all of the feelings. I felt happy and sad, also angry, scared, somber, glee, anticipation, and certainly pleasure and pain. I laughed and I cried. Not in the tub just now, I mean in utero.
Jumping forward, just now in the bath, I asked my adolescent self, who just had her first period, what kind of ritual she would have liked. I told her, I'm sorry this stupid culture doesn't know how to properly celebrate the crossing of that threshold. She said, it would have been nice to gather in a circle under the moon - you know, nothing that hasn't been thought about by every other woman and girl, but for some reason hasn't been actually done with any meaningful intention in a long time. At least, not in the suburbs. She would have liked that, maybe around a fire, maybe some storytelling. Maybe the chance to ask any question on her mind. Does it always hurt? What is normal? Is the blood always dark? Is it ok to mingle all these feelings about life and death all at the same time? Is that the magic of being a woman, being a creator of life and death?
Eleven. That’s how old I was. How young I was. Hey, give me a break, I’ve been blogging for four months and I held out this long before a period piece. Give me a minute.
My God, eleven feels so young when I look back. I was young for seventh grade, but also tall for eleven. I was afraid of acne and boys and my body and other bodies and of being noticed and of not being noticed. Pretty soon after that period I became obsessed with being “in”. It was so important to be “in”. Who’s in? Oh, she is so in. He’s in, kind of. They used to be in but now they’re out. Can we sit here? You? Sit here? Ha, no way, you’re not in.
But my circle ritual - I get to pick who’s in. My mother and her mother and my friends and maybe some of their mothers. And anyone my mother thinks belongs in. And anyone my grandmother thinks should be in. And Sarah from the Torah. And our cat Zorro, even though he’s a boy. He’s the lookout. He and I have a secret connection.
Secret connections and magic. Eleven, old enough to cross one threshold, but young enough to hold onto all kinds of magical thinking. Forget super strength or speed or even flight. Why mess with any of those dumb, show-offy powers when you have the secret power. I used to practice with my mom. She’s an empath, what you call the receiver. I’m the sender. I don’t know what you call it. But after all that time on the inside, where all I could do was receive, I so much wanted to be born, to use all of my senses and feel the feelings, and then send them around. It’s a type of healing, I think. You can feel it especially under the moon, and in circles.
Thank you, little baby Sarah, for wanting to be born. For being curious about the world. For feeling so cramped that you wanted to be born that snowy day of war and law, the day that marked you with a soaring imagination and a fiery temperament. And thank you, young lady Sarah, for being patient about getting your ritual. Ask any question you want, you’re always in and always heard here.
Sarah Elovich is a writer, performer and humorist based in Oakland, CA.