the smoker

The very first cigarette I ever smoked was nicked off my oh so cool and beautiful older cousin who was staying with us for the summer. I was 13 and I didn't much like it though a few of us on the swim team would pretend to suck in and blow out and pretend we were oh so cool. We weren't. When summer ended, so did the pretend smoking. And then ...

When I was 15, my younger sister almost died. She lived in the timeless drain of tubes and nurses and intensive care. My parents were never around. I started smoking, breathing in the smoke and crying and coughing and choking and spewing bile in my parent's bathroom. Soon I found reasons to believe I enjoyed smoking and by the time I was 20, I was up to a pack a day.

It was poetry, dark and soulful, in and out sexy. It was a release from work and pain and boredom. It was the deep inhalation of smoke filled words and sparkled eyes and longing. It was hidden and secretive full of mystery and misery. It was pacing hallways and crying and taking breaks with the other misfits. It was a part of me, a ritual, a remember when, a sexy kiss of burnt smoke. It was who I was and defined my being. It was my addiction to more than the nicotine butt to the image of seductive smoke curl upwards spiraling down dance among substance reaching never quite touching.

sigh.

Its now a memory of the way things were and who I was and what I did. Smoke eventually rises and disappears and I have found my substance.

Over the past 20 years, I have tried to quit many times. When I was young, I would fling the pack of cigs out the window of my fun little red truck in a fit of passion and overdramatization. Hours later, I would be back in the spot, hoping they were not damaged. I would bang walls and cry for want of that magic cure but never lasted longer than a week.

Two years ago, I got serious and stuck the patch on, confident that I could do it, I would do it, I would succeed. I hated every minute of every day, I dreamed of long smokey nights, a pad of paper, and the dark night sinking into my flesh. Needless to say, I starting again, within a week. I would preach that I was hardcore, I was a smoker dammit and so what if they were $10 a pack, and so what if they were banned from restaurants and what about my freedoms and the government wasn't going to control my life. Hmmmm. Dress me in black baby, light my cigarette and let me live in my poet's world of martini swished nights.

Months ago, I was wandering through the bookstore, hacking my little asthma cough (ah, the sexy little asthma cough), when I stumbled across a little book. Allan Carr's Stop Smoking and all that for the price of a pack of cigarettes. Yeah. Right. Whatever.

I bought it. I read it. I haven't smoked since. For the first time in my adult life, I am a non-smoker. I've started working out again, I've started enjoying life and not always thinking about that next cigarette, I've started new adventures and new interests. Wow. Who knew that I could still enjoy donning my blacks and drinking a martini with my pad of paper and my angst spewed out? 'Course I can also don my hiking boots and hit the trails and dance in beauty with my pad of paper and my happy spewed out.

It was easy to quit. It didn't hurt like before. It felt good. I highly recommend it. I have quit my self-imposed slavery to a stick of stench. Yah! 'Course my response to that would have been ... yeah yeah, whatever ;-)