Menopause. There. I said it.
That is what has been going on with me for the past several months that I have described as "fatigue" (lie: exhaustion) or "feeling down" (understatement: depressed) or "the flu" (half truth). Menopause is why I have been unable to focus for more than very short periods. It is why I have been staying in bed with my cats a lot. It is why I have had to carry a hanky with me everywhere I go and why I have claimed it's too hot when you are wearing a sweater.
Menopause. I hate the word. In French, it's la mènopause, which, if you can imagine the accent is a bit better but only because you have had two glasses of wine. Oh hell, three. I don't know. It's Menopausia in Spanish. Not much better but we have to imagine we are in Barthelona eating olives with Antonio Banderas. But of course that reverie is interrupted by the probability of sweating into one's gazpacho. Awkward.
Recently I was in a meeting in a small office in Tel Aviv on a chilly winter's day. I was mopping my brow every few minutes and, I imagine, becoming the color of a beet. When my male partner received a phone call that temporarily distracted him, I leaned forward to the woman we were meeting with, who is a few years older than me and whispered - sorry, it's gal l'chom -- hot flashes. She smiled, nodded and turned on the air conditioner much to the puzzlement of my partner, who shivered throughout the rest of the meeting. That's female bonding, folks.
There are three stages in the life of a woman in which our hormones, those innocuous little bits floating around that give us our shape and reproductive capacities, make themselves known rather rudely: puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Check, check, check. Booyah.
Only, when you cross that last divide, as you moisturize your sandpaper skin and try to stay awake for more than two consecutive hours, as you wipe away the tears as you realize your life has been a cosmic joke and reach for another helping of ice cream, chocolate, wine -- whatever -- as you cross this last divide, up ahead, faintly, you can see the exit sign: Last threshold before DEATH, it seems to read. But then you can't quite see it because you need your readers.
This is where the moving sidewalk ends, where the streets have no name, a no-woman's land in which it is forbidden to say: Hey, yeah, I'm good -- you know -- not ovulating anymore so my menstruation is stopping so I can't focus or stop crying or laughing. Yeah -- ha ha! I know! Do you happen have a coconut cream pie?
It is said that a woman in her 50s can experience the best years of her life. When she is finally confident in her own skin, when she is at the apex of her earnings, her wisdom and her physical ability to walk unassisted.
Yes. It's been glorious so far. Truly.
As I stumble through le changement with my sweaty les bouffées de chaleur, as I experience the mighty grandeur that is the human body in its infinite wisdom, I have just one wish -- no -- 20 wishes but I lost my focus, hold on... Yeah, one wish, and that is that we can talk about going through this phrase with less embarrassment than as if we are discussing having the runs or have become gassy owing to the Pad Thai we had at lunch.
In a society obsessed with youth, it is the ultimate unsexy move to commit the unspeakable act of growing older. Most women soldier through COOL-O-PAUSE ™ wordlessly but not I. I can't hide the impact it is having on me. So if I haven't called you back for oh, what? Four months? Five? If I can't remember your name or have claimed to be "a bit sick" for the past 10 times you have enquired, it's because I'm -- I'm actually -- I'm coming out of the closet here folks -- I'M AGING.
Yes, this Billy Idol idolizer, this former Flock of Seagull hairstyle imitator, this -- anyway, you get it -- hold on -- what was I saying? Oh yes, it turns out that time, it does keep on rolling like a mighty river, and it it takes many things right along with it one of which, when the fog clears from my hormonally deprived mind, is being a slave to a 28-day cycle that has been, in my case, irrelevant since I had my last kid.
Goodbye Auntie Flo, it's been real. Hello Aging Gracefully, let's give this a go, shall we?