Two birds enjoying today's morning light:
T. and I watched a movie last night –“It’s Complicated” with Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin. Pretty good film. There was one small detail that I especially appreciated. The character played by Meryl Streep, a mid-life divorced woman with college and post-college aged kids, experiences two hot flashes during the film, though nothing is ever stated about it. It was handled so subtly that I wonder if most viewers don’t even notice. It came through loud and clear to me.
“Is it hot in here? Or is it me?” is the title of a terrific book about menopause that I read cover to cover a couple of years ago. Inevitably it returns to my mind whenever I feel that rush of heat to my face and the bloom of lava that starts in my chest and flows out over my body. This time of year especially, when sometimes it really IS hot in here, I don’t always know the answer to that question.
As I expect is the case for most women, I am alone in my household as a menopausal woman. The rest of the family is sympathetic; they help me laugh about it. My Dad called my mother “Flash Gordon” for years. But no one can really get it like another menopausal woman can.
I do not spend a lot of time with women my age – probably not enough. I definitely have strains of the introvert. But now and again I am filled with appreciation for the company of women who are my peers in age and experience. The subject of hot flashes, menopause, adolescent children, empty nest, or shifting body parts can set off of a cascade of anecdotes. It is usually a descent into hilarity, even as it is sharing the misery.
My friends knew before I did that my turtleneck days were over. You have to be able to get to exposed skin in a hurry. “Layers, Honey, always have layers.” Everyone’s husbands have been awakened by a wife who is hot with something other than passion in the middle of the night. Off fly the covers.
There are amusing hot flash “first time” stories, and extreme hot flash events. My most memorable was waking up with that panicky feeling of escalating heat while I was tightly bound inside a sleeping bag at the base of Mt. Katahdin. Another particularly inconvenient one came while I was accompanying the show choir during the district competition. My page turner deftly jumped into the job of valet as I frantically tried to shake off the sleeves of my jacket between measures. A woman at a tennis gathering recently moved to Maine from the southwest “just in time.” “People ask me if the cold weather is hard for me, but I LOVE it!! A hot flash in Florida could kill you!”
As we edge our way toward summer I look forward with some trepidation to the hot weather, already planning to spend as much time as I can near cool water this July and August. Rumor has it that some women continue flashing for decades, so I’m just going to learn to live with it. Enjoy my early morning walks. And always wear layers.