Whenever I meet my friend Frances for coffee , I know I’ll always leave feeling better than when I arrived. Frances and I are both members of the Manhattan Magnolias — an elite secret society of southern women that live in New York. Each of us has our own independent life and inner circle outside of our unique bond, the perfect recipe for council. Friendships outside your social circle can be more open. There is no topic that we do not discuss.
I arrived at our last coffee meeting, back from the school drop-off sprint and dripping with sweat in a way that only a middle aged woman can . As we approached the cafe counter, the barista asked to see our vaccine cards and take our temperature . Except…He hadn’t really said it until he’d noticed me sweating . I imagine him thinking to himself, “Holy shit, that lady is dripping with covid.” The poor guy was maybe 25. I blurted out, “Don’t worry. My sweaty meltdown is from menopause, not covid . You can’t catch it.” Frances and I cackled while the barista smiled and blushed . He wasn’t scared off, and went on to treat us like the queens we are.
We sat down with our delicious coffees, and before I had finished my first sip, Frances leaned in with a whisper, “Are you in menopause?” I looked at her as seriously as I could muster and said, “Not yet, but I am definitely menopause adjacent…in perimenopause. I have a few mild symptoms, but nothing like the list of horrors my friends are reporting. I keep my head low and count my blessings.” Frances could relate, and shared what hints of the change were knocking on her front door. There was a tiny moment of silence filled with relief of the now and the uncertainty for what was coming. It is my nature to respond to most things with a little humor or inspiration, so I offered up, “In some ways, menopause is like an orgasm. If you have to ask if you are having it, you probably aren’t.” Frances and I laughed for a very long time. The gay guys sitting at the next table who had been eavesdropping joined in on our laughter . Their support for our journey was clear and welcomed.
Let’s say that menopause is like a big beautiful southern mansion . The house has many rooms representing the collection of experiences women have: the good, the bad and the funny. The history of the house is rarely discussed honestly, but is filled with mystery, pain, suffering and innumerable heroic stories of survival . Frances and I may not be in the house yet, but we are definitely sitting on the front porch, sharing our stories in rocking chairs and drinking ice tea. Happy World Menopause Day!