All a Wash
– Flash Memoir by Hannah Grieco & Painting by Jesi J. Jones –
Lately, you’re sad for the two days before your period. Sadder than you ever were in your teens, in your 20’s, in even the long months after you had babies in your 30’s. You’re sad in the way that creaks like aging vertebrae and nags like questionable images on mammograms. You’re sad in a way that feels like very slow quicksand, like you don’t mind sinking as much as you should. Like you’re tired, honey. You’re tired.
Soon you won’t get periods. Soon your kids will move out, will move on with their lives. Or else they won’t and you’ll accept that, instead. Accept the vacations you’d planned to take as an older woman that you still can’t take, the caregiving that never ends, the date nights that do end, earlier and earlier. Accept the quick hand jobs before falling asleep, not because you’re too drunk to fuck, or maybe because you’re too drunk to fuck and you still haven’t learned, after all these years, not to get that drunk, or maybe because now when you’re drunk, you’re sadder than you used to be and you can manage a hand job but not the act of fucking, of making love, of making anything.
Twenty years is a long time to love someone, you think, grateful and tired at the same time. Twenty years seemed like a long time to even be alive, once. Back when you wondered if anyone would ever love you, just a little, if anyone would ever stick around, if anyone would ever notice you talking and laughing too loud and drinking until you danced on those huge speakers or hung off a balcony, until you fell asleep in a stranger’s lap at that bar on 50th and 2nd Ave, until you woke up at Journal Square in Jersey City, the conductor on the Path yelling at you at 4AM. “Where are you supposed to be?” the old man shouted, not entirely unkindly, and you shrugged and you wondered if any of this mattered to anyone and you got off the train and waited fifty-seven minutes for the return train. You sat on the bench in the dark, the one light that wasn’t burned out flickering overhead, your pager silent– not one person had checked to see if you’d made it home or even left a message about a temp job.
Twenty years is a long time, but when you say, “I’m sad” to your husband and he says, “Are you about to get your period? You’re always sad before your period, baby,” you grab at his shoulders and neck. You pull him into you, press your whole face against his chest. You say, “None of it mattered.” You say, “Nobody noticed, but here I am.” You say, “This has all been a wash except for you.”
Hannah Grieco is a writer, editor, and teacher in Washington, DC. She is the author of the hybrid collection “So You Don’t Hear Me” (Summer Camp Publishing, 2022) and the editor of the anthology “And If That Mockingbird Don’t Sing: Parenting Stories Gone Speculative” (Alternating Current Press, 2022). She is the senior creative nonfiction editor at JMWW, the fiction editor at Porcupine Literary, and the founder and organizer of the monthly reading series ‘Readings on the Pike.’ Find her on Twitter @writesloud.
Jesi J. Jones is a Denver artist who has shown her multi-media art projects in various art shows for the past 20 yrs. Her creativity is displayed with a style multifarious in modern and organic abstractionism. For the past 16 years, she has managed a local lecture series called Denver Eclectics, all while balancing parenting and painting. Follow her on Instagram @jesiindenver.