Birth and menopause usually don't go together, but in this case my friends were involved and a Bloody Mary. By telling my friends what I’d been experiencing in this first part of menopause I felt closer to them. Their reactions were immediate, they were all good. Cedric said the conversation gave him reality on things he’d been feeling from me recently, but could not figure out. Wendy offers a book about menopause for me to read. I remembered the celebration we had for Wendy when her menopause transition was complete. In the afterglow of telling the truth I felt like celebrating. On the spot I said it. Susan without hesitation and with a gleam in her eye suggests we all toast in celebration with a Bloody Mary. All were an enthusiastic "Yes” and before dinner that night we made it happen.
In small groups of two’s and three’s we arrive in the kitchen as cocktail glasses are being brought out and lined up along the dining room side of the island counter. We women are in heels and dresses, the men are neatly groomed. There is a buzz in the room. Conversations combine with anticipation and good feelings build.
Different people get ingredients from the various places - pantry, cupboards, drawers, refrigerator, freezer. Juice, seasonings, vodka, lemons, olives, dilly beans, ice are brought together with the utensils, cutting board, knife, spoon, shaker. These Bloody Mary drinks are being made using a recipe developed over our years together with real time adjustments that make them the best each time. Everyone is a part of the creation.
I count the people, count the glasses and count up the drinks to be made virgins. I get the toothpicks for the garnish. I watch the assembly, enjoying the process. The seasonings go in first...a shake, spoonful and pinch of this and that, which infuses our home canned tomato juice with complex flavor. Each is shaken and poured back into the original glass. Attention is paid to the details; the cut of the lemon wedge, placement of the dilly beans and olives that dress it up. The enjoyment of making the drinks an experience in itself, a ritual of ours. And so the drinks are done and glasses handed out.
When Susan raises hers I raise my glass and our eyes meet. Unwavering she holds my gaze and toasts -- Cheers! We smile in celebration. I shift my gaze looking around at all the faces, acknowledging each of the dozen gathered at the kitchen island. In an instant my chest flushes and pounds. The heat races up my neck and throat, extending the blush hot over my cheeks. My skin turns dewy.
Whew! Another menopause hot flash? No. It is the attention and approval of my tribe, the intensity of our celebration of woman moving through me. It is a moment I will never forget; the birth of a new celebration of midlife.