My sister sat outside the bathroom door yelling instructions to me. It went on forever, mostly because what she was telling me to do was unbelievable.

It was my first tampon lesson.

Now I collect tampons and pads and give them to women who are homeless. I have a ton of both in my dining room right now waiting to be bagged up and delivered to shelters. It has become my thing. So much so people seek me out. Would I take 28 boxes of Depends? That is a lot of Depends – 80 to a box x 28 = 2,240 Depends. All Small-Medium. So you can be incontinent and homeless but hopefully you are on the small side.

It’s odd to have a long career and have its ending achievement be the collection of products that soak up bodily fluids.

My work is about data and program evaluation, strategic planning and advocacy. I write reports thick with numbers, studies that uncover policy flaws and program mishaps. Unintended consequences is my favorite topic. What did people not think of when they decided on a new approach, what went unexpectedly wrong? I loved those questions. They were candy.

But I have somehow gotten bored with candy.

I want to drive to a shelter, pull down the tailgate on our truck, push in the button that releases the step that folds down, and climb into the truck bed to unload pink garbage bags full of tampons and pads. I want to struggle, have to hoist myself, do a little mind over matter to get where I want to be. I want to be a bit out of breath when I’m done unloading and maybe ache a little that night. I want a physical life.

My sister told me that if I didn’t use tampons, I’d have to sit out from swim practice. I’d have to be one of those girls up in the bleachers in a plaid skirt and knee socks doing her homework and looking extra dainty. And while I never had anything against using pads, I hated the idea of “dainty.” Like somehow a girl was sick or incapacitated because she was having her period. That wasn’t for me. I was the anti-dainty. And I guess I still am.

I think that’s where my new and very deep love of loaded trucks comes from. I want to keep swimming. I never want to sit out.


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