Running Out of Time: Wishing Time Away
I cannot wait to graduate high school. I am also in desperate need of more time. I feel a twinge of sadness when I think about this chapter of my life coming to a close, but this anticipatory nostalgia is by no means why I feel like I need a few extra months to be a cog in the machine, a product in the factory that is the Houston Independent School District.
I started my senior year determined to achieve what Covid prevented me from doing: securing Bellaire High School administration's approval to put free period products in all the girls’ restrooms. Luckily, principal Mr. McDonough was all for my experiment and was eager to support the project. I enlisted my Italian teacher to help set up the Freedom From Period Poverty project on Donors Choose, a crowdfunding platform for teachers that she uses frequently. By November, baskets, pads, and tampons had been paid for by myriad donors. I also had members of the Italian National Honor Society enlisted to help carry out my long-dreamt of mission.
Since November, this project to place free period products in the bathrooms has been funded twice more through Donors Choose, and we have more than enough period products to carry us to the end year. Mr. McDonough has even set aside a part of the school's budget for me to buy products for next year (a very exciting development!). My next steps are to try to transfer basket refilling responsibilities to maintenance staff and to work within HISD administration to see how my low-cost pilot program - an unprecedented success considering that Bellaire is the largest high school in the district - can be implemented in secondary schools district-wide.
Unfortunately (and fortunately, too), my time in high school is almost up. I have days, not years, to make this project into a large-scale program. There is no time for me to perfect the system: to get better baskets, gauge how to support nonbinary and transgender menstruators, or figure out the best way to store extra products. A detailed page in the book of my life is finally turning, but I have been forced to skip to the end of the chapter, robbed of the resolution to an attention-grabbing storyline.
Part of me wants to leave high school embracing the satisfaction and finality of graduation as I depart one educational institution and fully commit myself to another. Alas, I am Orpheus as he leaves the underworld. I cannot help but look back at the sometimes hellish halls of high school to relish all that I have accomplished, only to see all that I have failed to achieve. Moreover, part of me will always wonder how the clubs I led are faring or if the period product baskets are being refilled.
In the spirit of melodrama, I will mourn for the projects and organizations that I have created (which will lie in different but capable hands). I will revel in the relief I feel from being freed from my oft overwhelming responsibilities. My organizations and initiatives will be the moldy birthday cake of my life, a source of great joy that cannot - and should not - do more than simply remind me of what once was as the slice makes its final descent into the compost bin of memory.
I may be hanging up my wings as the Period Basket Fairy, but I will still embrace the signature sparkle of being the Period Girl as I pursue my dreams of district-wide free period products from a dorm room over 1,500 miles away.
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