I started smoking when I was 15. I lived in Ethiopia, and one of my Italian friends was a pack a day smoker. I thought she was cool and chic, and thought “Why not?” when she offered me my first. It took a little while before I became a pack a day type smoker myself – it was harder to conceal from my parents when I lived in Ethiopia… even though I had my own studio apartment room that had a separate entrance from the rest of the house.
I remember one night when Fede came to sleep over, we were smoking with the windows open and tossing the used cigarette butts into the toilet when my mum decided to come up and check if we needed anything. She decided before going back downstairs she needed to use the bathroom and unfortunately despite my best efforts to convince her to go away, she went in and saw the few butts that hadn’t been taken down with the last flush.
I got in so much trouble.
But that didn’t stop me from smoking… it only stopped me from doing it in my room. I liked the smell of cigarette smoke.
I also discovered bidis while living in Ethiopia and smoked them on a regular basis all through my high school years. There was a small reprieve in my steadily growing habit when we were in Frederick, MD for a few months between Ethiopia and moving to Sweden, but that didn’t stop me from picking a cigarette back up when I got to Stockholm.
In Stockholm, I was getting older, the base of friends I had that smoked was growing. Svea smoked, Maja smoked, Linus and Jude smoked… Dan smoked. I had the freedom of public transportation and plenty of opportunity to smoke in town and at school without my parents noticing. I enjoyed a cigarette with my vodka when I sat in any given bar at eighteen. I even started using vintage style cigarette cases and smoking with vintage style cigarette holders – which I’d done well into my mid-20s (still have them somewhere…)
Eventually over the years I “quit,” which was actually surprisingly easy to do – I don’t have an overly addictive personality. I put it in quotes because I would still do it when I drank – but a pack would then often last me several months.Then I had kids and the level went significantly down, especially when I moved to Australia and discovered the price. I just couldn’t justify the expense to myself… even though my husband still buys them for himself.
I still enjoy entertaining the thought of a cigarette when I have a drink, but what really gets me is a sunny day. I’m not sure why, but when I am driving on a sunny mild temperature day listening to upbeat dance worthy music – I crave one every time. Maybe it’s Summertime in Sweden memories. Memories of laying out on the deck of Svea’s Summer cabin on Sandhamn. Maybe it’s recalling Spring in TN with my sunroof open and a menthol hanging from my lips. I don’t know.
This morning as I drove my daughter to school it was about 21C/70F. The sun was shining. I dropped her off and drove home listening to a dance mix of No Doubt’s “Hey Baby.”
Damn. I want a cigarette.
(Sorry I know it’s not the best video – but only one I could find with this particular remix 😉 )