I stood outside and smoked a forbidden cigarette tonight. I found an old, smashed pack from some outdoor barbecue we had months ago, and I knelt by the side of the house and inhaled.
It's this whole exhale thing I'm struggling with.
I'm failing at this mom gig. My laundry basket is taunting me; it's piled higher than most monuments I've visited in Europe. I kicked some crumbs under the couch today, and I'm using dry shampoo way more often than is socially acceptable.
I live on coffee and unfulfilled dreams. One day, I keep telling myself. One day I will write a novel. One day I will edit a magazine. One day I will pen a column.
One day I will do this laundry.
My husband's a rock star. He works twelve hour days and travels the world. He speaks business better than most speak English. And he's happy. He's fulfilled. He's an astronomical success; a shining star. I'm just dark matter in yoga pants.
I'm not sure where I thought I'd be at 29. I'm certain if I went back to the halls of grade school and glanced upon my "what I'll be doing in twenty years" poster, I definitely wouldn't have drawn myself crouched down with a cigarette in a tiny Swiss village, hiding from the world's chattiest toddler.
I am fully aware that Amelia is the greatest thing I have ever done and will ever do. Children are miraculous and wondrous beings. And while I'm proud that my ovaries did their job, and while I value my role as a mother and nurturer, I also wonder who I am in all of this. Being an expatriate has complicated my identity. It's hard enough to find yourself in the places you've always been. I'm in a culture foreign to everything I've ever known, and here, I'm just someone's wife. I'm just someone's mother.
I'm whining; I know this. Amelia's been out of preschool all week for "ski break" (yes, that's a real thing), and I haven't had a break of my own in a while. I'm answering questions like "do piggies eat hot dogs?" and "why don't I have magical powers like Elsa?"
I want to talk politics with someone. I want to engage in a conversation without being called a doody head. I want to get drunk on cheap beer and dance to the Backstreet Boys on the Wharf's jukebox. I just want to be interesting again.
Please don't send me 1-800 numbers for mental health hotlines or lung cancer brochures. I've pitched the pack of cigs and moved on to the chocolate bunnies. Don't gossip to your friends about my deep, dark, depression, or assume I'm holed up by myself on some mountainside. The thing is, parts of my life are so damn incredible that i can't even quite comprehend what I'm experiencing. It's like I am taking it all in through one of those dirty strainer buckets we use in Amelia's sandbox; I'm only getting granules.
I've kissed the sacred ground of Jerusalem. I've traced my name on a bridge in Lyon. I've maneuvered though traffic in Paris and Milan, and I've eaten fondue atop the Swiss Alps. I'm living in such vibrant colors, yet I'm still waiting on something black and white---like a career, or an accomplishment all my own. I'm waiting on me.
I take great pride in my husband's success, but I also know that it doesn't mirror my own. I'm not looking to change the world (hell, I'd be happy to change a load of laundry right now), but I'm looking for something to prove myself to MYSELF. It's not that I'm lost; I'm just somewhere in-between.
...between countries, between careers. Between the inhale and the exhale.