October, with all its colours of old gold and burnished tangerine, has come and gone.
I turn another calendar page over on my kitchen calendar, pausing a moment to admire the closeup of the awesome bird in flight pictured on the November page.
I look outside at the bare and naked trees. Everything is the colour of grey, I think, hugging my grey sweater around me as if to prove a point.
November. The year is almost over.
Hmmm! That would be me reflecting!
Another year has almost passed into history and what have I done? What have I accomplished other than figure out how to get Netflix on both the TV and the Wii?!
Nothing, I sigh, momentarily luxuriating in self-defeating morose.
But then I remember in a lightbulb ‘aha’ moment.
One year ago in October I quit smoking!
I recall the moment with pride, tinged only slightly with surprise that I actually listened to myself and quit.
I remember the night and grinding the cigarette out in the parking lot with the heel of my shoe. I probably remember that moment because of the shoes. They were very cute; little black ones with sharp high heels that tap smartly when I walk like I know where I’m going, which is ironic because I usually don’t.
Anyway, it was a dark October night, illuminated only by a map of stars spread invitingly across a dark velvet blanket of sky. It was, of course, also lit just a tiny little bit by the glowing tip of my cigarette.
I was gazing at the map of stars while standing in the parking lot of the Rimbey Hospital enjoying a final drag of my cigarette before I went into the ‘I Quit’ class which I had high hopes would horrify me into actually quitting.
But I wasn’t there yet.
I liked smoking. Smoking was my reward for when I finished an interview, before I started one and when I was thinking about actually doing one. And it was also my reward for when I finished work, and my friend when I got in my car and when I had a good day and, most importantly, when I had a bad day.
Smoking had been a part of my life off and on since I was 13 years old. In reality, I was a kid, only 13 for crying out loud, but I wasn’t satisfied with that status quo. I wanted to look older and act older and be older. I figured that would make me cool and sophisticated.
Smoking might do it, I reasoned, and as luck would have it, my soon to be sister-in-law, who was 19 at the time, obligingly gave me smokes and even taught me how to wear bright red lipstick and pin curl my hair just like the big girls.
So as it turned out before I started smoking, I was still a kid happily playing ball with my brothers or diligently hauling wash water for my big sister. Water actually coming from taps had not yet come to our little town, at least if it had, my family didn’t know about it. I filled two cream cans with water and balanced them precariously on a little wagon and hauled them to her house, carefully, so as not to spill a precious drop and she paid me 25 cents each time I successfully made the delivery.
So I played ball and hauled water, but now I did one more thing.
I smoked. Here I was, a grown up lady dragging on a tailor-made Players filter tip cigarette, leaving bright red lipstick stains on the filtered tips, just like the big girls.
And as that advertisement said, “I’d come a long way, baby.”
But in October of 2013, that all changed.
That final drag I took of that cigarette turned out to be the final drag of any cigarette that has since passed between my lips.
And now I am living proof that advertisement is true!
In one short year, I have come a long way!