Chw have had quite a few dreamy conversations about working towards a big backpacking trip. He’s never gone, and we both love the mountains so much. I love sharing adventures with my husband and so, with baby-steps, we work towards the possibility of it someday.
I had the really awesome opportunity of going on a week-long back packing trip deep into an Idaho mountain range, when I was 14. It was hard and I’m sure I complained a lot. As I am old, my 14-year-old self did not have the ability to take incessant selfies and photo document every single moment of the amazing trip, so I am left to rely on my memories. Tucked within those memories are some of the most beautiful things that my eyes have seen. The trail we went on, (there was a group of us. It feels like about 20, but I’d have to ask my dad to be sure.) where the ability to drive stopped. I remember really narrow and terrifying mountain side passes where, one landslide, and we’d have all died. I remember wearing black trash bags because of rain, eating astronaut food (MREs) and countless other amazing things.
It was a trip of firsts. First night in a tent. First hiking. First exploring. First real trip, ever, of any form of self resilience. First real, deep conversation with a peer. First time wearing a tampon…
Yes. You read that right. It might seem like an odd first to remember, but as with most things- there is more to the story.
When you go on backpacking excursions, you are obviously pretty limited on what you can bring. Looking back, I’m thinking we must have camped for a week, and so the hiking in and hiking out may have accumulated an additional week. At any rate, we girls had to be prepared. In my packing list had been tampons, and I’d brought them obediently. I mean, I knew I would not need them… But then I did. And I had no idea what to do, at all. The group home I resided in, (because, if you remember, the dad I refer to was technically my foster/house dad) had a closet full of donated items, and among those items were some outdated, generic tampons. My plastic wrapped items had no instruction. I asked the only other teen girl on our trip and she quickly tutored me through what to do, and off I went, into the woods to do it.
But the translation or something went terribly wrong. Terribly wrong. Walking back to camp took ten times longer and the pain grew more and more excruciating. The tears were not at all exaggerated and I had no idea how to deal with it. Eventually the trauma had me double over, in agony, in the tent I was sharing with my faithful friend and feminine hygiene tutor. We tried problem solving but eventually she either grew frustrated, scared (or most likely a combination of both) and went to seek out our female staff on the trip. Her name is Carol. (I LOVE Carol. It is a small list of truly amazing women I’ve encountered over my life, and Carol is at the top of the list. The important thing to note, at this point in the story, however, is that I had not ever really interacted with Carol before.)
Carol, poor-poor sweet Carol had to dig out the horrible little cotton object, from deep within the depths of my blossoming womanhood. She then had to replace it with another cotton foreign object. She was reassuring, while I was beyond mortified. She was so sweet and exclaimed several times, “I have no idea how this happened. I have never heard of anything like it.”
Several years later, as a 17-year-old and out on my own, I decided buy a box of regular, pink wrapped tampons. While bored, one afternoon, I read the little accompanying pamphlet. In the back of said booklet were a few Q & A’s. Right at about the middle of the list read this:
Can my tampon get lost inside of me? I am living proof that their response was a lie. And I can tell you this resolutely because it happened one other time, with far worse repercussions, but that is best as a story for another time. (and probably NOT on this blog.)