I can picture my mother when I was young, I knew when we would be out to dinner when my mom was craving , her ritual , her time , to get up and go smoke outside the restaurant.
I could see her eyes start to look over at her purse, and her body begin to move in a nervous way. Her hands would reach next to her , or under the table. I knew she was carefully trying to pick up the straps of her purse
without anyone seeing her.
She was born and raised a southern bell, she had emaculate manners. Her need to “smoke” was always
at great odds with her etiquette. I would watch her look for a proper time to excuse herself, a gap in a conversation. It was only then that she would gracefully get up , push her chair into the table when she was all clear, and gracefully dissapear out the front or back door of the establishment.
She almost always went out to smoke alone. Unless you are a smoker , it is hard to understand that smoking cigarettes “is” the point, but it becomes far more of a ritual, a time to be alone to think, lighting the cigarette, smoking it, lingering as a way to escape situations, relieve anxiety.
I remember there was much tension between my father and my mother due to her smoking.
Smoking cigarettes became an issue as I became a Junior National and National level Swimmer.
I began to resent my mother’s smoking. My sister and I would find her hidden cartens of slim menthol cigarettes , run outside while she was napping, and throw them down the sewer across the street.
We truely believed this would help her to stop.
Fast forward to my upper teens at Depeche Mode Concerts, and I would try smoking Cloves, and I almost past out the first time, but they tasted like cloves. I never liked or enjoyed smoking, I swore I would never smoke. I was an Olympic level swimmer at this point approaching my 20’s and I knew what Cigarette smoke and second hand smoke would do to my lungs. I was fierce about my health, what went into my body, and so were the army of coaches supporting my body and mind.
My mother ,never the less, continued to smoke. She no longer smoked near me nor my sister or father.
It really drove a wedge between her and my father.
I still never understood even after a British Husband, and much later a British Fiance’ who also smoked.
I had let go of trying to change anyone . It stil annoyed me.
Cigarette smoking, at 33 Julian and I went to Paris for Holiday.
We both were into the cafe scene, reading, walking the different Arrondissements, taking in the beauty and culture.
I had studied Highschool humanities, Authors, and Artisits and University I went to a Liberal Arts University and went through most of an Art History BA , but changed my mind and went into nursing.
I dreamed my whole life of going to Paris.
I never dreamed it would be the place I , would START Smoking Cigarettes.
I have never been one to bow to peer pressure, Im not sure I can even blame this on peer pressure.
Julian and I would sit for hours at cafe’s beginning in the morning, He spoke French, so we were able to communicate with the Parisians. We would sit outside with our coffe, and he would smoke. In Paris they had the nice Tabac, shops where he could get his favorite smokes. Eating fresh Bagette, butter, jam and more coffee while everyone around us was talking and doing the same.
I would look around and I was the only person NOT smoking.
I think this went on for 3 or 4 days and finally I decided to go all in!
I started smoking French cigarettes. I liked them. I had guilt in the beginning but that soon went away.
I started to feel like a native walking around , on the Metro, walking through parks, shopping, smoking.
It will always be a beautiful time in my life. I loved Smoking in Paris.
Time passed, I quit.
I started again in my 40’s for 2 years out of sheer stress. I got to smoke with my mom. I got to understand her
as a smoker and a human addicted to cigarette smoking. We actually had fun stepping out together, we had a signal, or I just said ‘hey mom lets go”. I think that really helped with her internalized shame. I got it, It was nice to leave intense situations, we both had GAD. More so we shared the Ritual Together.
She quit after 40 years. I never Smoked again.