My Cycle, My Cycle

The mysteries of my universe can be summed up with those two words

All women in this yoga class. The instructor, seated on a block, says, “Lunar cycle.” This is code for menstruation. To be on your lunar is to be bleeding, hopefully not through your yoga pants.

In the fifth grade, pencil marks on a large pink eraser. Mandy. This is her homeroom desk. I sit here for Language Arts. We write notes to each other on the pink eraser. Short notes. We are never in class together, but we see each other at lunch and on the playground. Mandy is tall and strong. A big girl. We start out with simple messages. “Hi.” Then one day, Mandy leaves me this message: “I got my .

My sister names her cat Luna, for the moon. It fits, she tells me. Because Luna is a lunatic. Luna eats ice cream. Luna likes avocados. My sister takes photos of the moon, and she sends them to me. Sometimes, she photoshops Luna in the sky, next to the moon. Luna, the lunatic, riding a witch’s broom. Luna, a white coat with mottled fur, reminiscent of craters. Luna, like the moon.

I say the word ovulation too much. It becomes my excuse for everything. I repeat the mantra: “Perhaps I am ovulating.” I can never say ovulate or ovulating or ovulation without struggling with the first two letters. O and V. I wish the word was obvulate. Then I could say: I am obviously obvulating. I would like it to be more obvious. Ovulation feels more confusing than any other time in my cycle. I think the ovulation phase should be called the lunar phase. Because I feel like a lunatic.

Yoga instructors like to remind their female students: If you are on your cycle, do not invert. No inversions for the bleeding ladies. Do not tip your pelvis, so that the blood moves in the wrong direction. Let the blood flow, dear menstruators. Flow with the flow.

We play a prank on Lauren in the sixth grade. We buy her tampons for her birthday. This is supposed to be funny somehow. We wrap her birthday presents in a tampon box. We are hilarious? Lauren opens the gifts, looks at us. “I had my period in the fourth grade,” Lauren says. We stop laughing.

My cat is always in a weird mood. I accept this. I admire this. I aspire to this. And yet, when I am in a weird mood, I do not accept this. I question this, and I attempt to change into a better mood. A more acceptable mood. A friendlier mood. I start to wonder where I am in my cycle. My cycle! I check the app on my phone. When did I last bleed? When will I bleed again? Soon, soon.

Menstruation is harder to say than ovulation. With menstruation, it’s the S-T-R combo that I struggle with. Ovulation is not obvious. But menstruation is extremely obvious. There be blood, baby. There be S-T-Raight up blood, y’all. Sometimes, there’s blood with ovulation. But it’s only a little bit of blood. A little trickle to trick those who haven’t been paying attention. Some menstruators fall for it. They think, “What?? I just had my period two weeks ago.” They forget about ovulation. Because it’s not obvious. It’s not obvulation.

The best yoga pose for lunatics is something called “butterfly legs.” Seated or lying down, you let your knees fall to the side, and you bring your feet close to your crotch. Now, the meridian lines in your legs will flex, bringing in fresh juice and taking away the stale juice. This is not a clinical description. This is just you letting go of some tension in your body.

I’m wearing a long skirt. It happens to be a long white skirt. My stomach hurts. I’m in school. A private school where I have to wear long skirts. My friend is in the bathroom with me. She’s upset about a boy she likes. She doesn’t know if he likes her back. We are best friends. I go into the stall, and I see it. The first blood. My first cycle. I’m 12. When I come out from the stall, I ask my friend, “Is there anything on the back of my skirt?” She says, “No.” I don’t tell her about the blood. But I tell my mother when she picks me up later that day. “You are a woman,” she says, on cue.

A man sees me as a catlike creature. He doesn’t call me a lunatic; he calls me a lioness. And he doesn’t say this to my face. He meets me once, through a mutual friend, and he writes about me, in a vague way, online. I read what he writes, and I ask him, “Is this about me?” in a comment online. He responds, months later, “Yes!” No further explanation.

If anything is happening, and I feel confused about it, I will say: I think it has to do with my cycle. It doesn’t matter what part of my cycle I am on or in or whatever. The mysteries of my universe can be summed up with those two words: my cycle.

I am bleeding now, for the millionth time. It doesn’t feel right or normal or sane. It’s just something that happens, over and over again. My cycle. It’s my cycle. My cycle!

Melissa Toldy is a writer living in Brooklyn, NY. Sign up for her free newsletter, I Toldy You. Looking for a book to read? Check out the Finding Context bookshop.

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