Mrs. Yokitis gathered about two dozen of us and played leader as we followed her to the trailer behind the school. We were twelve-year-old girls. We all sat close as our guidance teacher showed us some slides and a short video.
The slides were of breasts on each: a twelve-year-old girl, eighteen-year-old young lady, thirty-year-old woman, fifty-year-old lady. I felt embarrassed. I thought of my own breasts, then my mother's and my grandmother's. I felt embarrassed again.
The video showed different girls getting their periods. One of the girls received balloons from her family on her first period day. Another jumped for joy and embraced her perky older sister. At the end of the film there were some animated diagrams of vaginas. Little things moving in tubes. I felt terrified.
On our walk back into the school, everyone giggled and tried to hide the serious emotions and bags of samples that surfaced during our thirty-minute class. We were invited to hide our tampons and pads in the supply closet until dismissal so that the boys would never know.
A few months later I found blood on my bathing suit bottom. A year later, my mother took me to a hospital for a second showing of the vagina film. A few months after that, I skipped a day of school, crying because of the bloodstain on my lightwashed jeans.