being less selfish

Today was the first really hot day of Spring here in Atlanta — the first day when, in the car and despite its (however faltering) air conditioning, sweat ran in thick rivulets down my stomach from beneath my breasts, and my legs became as slick as if I had been dangling them into a pool.

Hubby and I ducked into the glorious, blasting cold of the interior of a Virginia Highland restaurant called Everbody’s Pizza and settled into a booth. A few minutes later, looking out at the hot, sunny day as yet another server swung through the rear door to serve guests who were braving the patio, I said:

“It’s days like this I would kill for a cigarette.”

Hubby, when he smoked, always liked them in winter, bundled up in sweaters and exhaling warm smoke into cold night air. I preferred the smoking of summer, the smoking of margaritas, lounging poolside with a magazine, or driving around  town with the windows down and warm air blowing my hair all crazy like around my face.

I realized the other day that there hasn’t been a year since I was 18 that I haven’t had at least one cigarette. In college I smoked a pack a day at times after picking up the habit within just a couple months of arriving to school. I have since vacillated in my commitment to quitting, sometimes smoking none for weeks or months at a time, but most of the time having at least a couple a week. Since hubby and I met I have smoked less than I have smoked in the last 10 years, but as athletic and otherwise health-conscious as he is, he also has enjoyed that guilty pleasure in his past, and we’ve been guilty of indulging together, however rarely.

Since the New Year I have only had half of one cigarette, when my best friend was in town visiting from where he teaches in South Korea, and hubby hasn’t had any. Since we decided to try to conceive at the end of February, neither of us have had any. I’m absolutely 110% committed to never, ever, ever smoking when I am pregnant or could be pregnant, and I also don’t want to be a mom who smokes after we have children. (No offense meant to any of you moms who do smoke…I love cigarettes, I just wish they were healthy for me! So I totally get the desire…)

But on days like these when the desire crosses my mind more than normal, I think about how much I am willing to change my life to create another. I can’t deny that it feels hard to slough off a lot of my selfishness, and let me tell you — all volunteerism, empathy, and generosity aside, my 20s have been a pretty selfish time. But really, to me it only seems right that we’re more focused inward, or even self centered, during that time in our lives…isn’t it when we are learning about ourselves and what makes us who we are? Of course many of us are more focused on ourselves…we’re finding them.

So it’s a hot sunny day in Georgia and I reach for my water, chew my gum, grab a book. And while I am absolutely looking forward to this new time of living my life and taking care of myself not only for me but also for others (hubby and future baby, primarily) —  I’ll admit it — it feels hard to give up living life for yourself.


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