I miss working swing shift and going on a smoke break at 9pm with the other smokers. Outside it's cold and we are huddled in our coats, pulled up to a white plastic table in white plastic chairs. There's never any luxury involved except the hotness going in and the stress going out. We had different things to talk about that I cannot describe but a few of you get it--Victoria's post brought that out. Camaraderie? Smoking together is dying together and it's one bad thing that feels awfully good.
All a smoker needs is a place for their bum and a can. Once I sat on a fire escape looking over Portland on the 10th floor, just outside the stairwell. I smoked alone there for an hour while upset about money, a Folger's can right next to me. Camel filters. I could be alone and content with a cigarette.
One smoker will give another smoker a cig sooner than most of us will give a bum a quarter.
Popping into 7-Eleven and saying "Camel Light 100s Please."
It's the whole lighting up ritual. The fresh pack, peel off the gold plastic string, sniff deeply of the aroma, get out favorite lighter, crack it, hold it to the tip and inhale. What replaces that?
No cigarette ever rejected me.
Remember More cigarettes? Maybe they are still around. They were too skinny and brown for me. Somehow a brown cigarette was meant to be smoked in the city night on a street corner with a man in a pin-striped suit. I never had that opportunity. Yet, light up a smoke in an airport or in a theater lounge and insta-quaintance. Smokers say really juicy things, and have pertinent info, and when you feel your husky voice answering their husky voice, it's nostalgic. A smoker knows how another smoker feeelz, it's like you are in a conspiracy that nonsmokers could never understand, never relate to. (And they can't.)
I miss the ex-boyfriends who smoked more than the ones who didn't.
A smoke with wine; a smoke with beer. Smoking in pubs with friends drinking microbrew. Shooting pool and reaching back to an ashtray for a toke before taking my turn.
Smoking while driving. With the window down. It feels cleaner and purer that way. Driving and driving on roads, thinking and fantasizing and smoking until that night when I got home and lay down in bed...
I couldn't breathe.
October 13 is my ten-year non-smoking anniversary. And know what? Despite my nicotine memories and yearnings, the myriad triggers to smoke throughout the years, the times I had to use something else to keep from smoking, well, the results of quitting are worth resisting the temptations.
I had good reasons to quit. I wanted to live a long time. I wanted to raise my daughter "right." I saw a 44-year-old woman dying before my eyes that smoked her whole life. Not even the oxygen could stop the convulsions her body made to get the air that it was never going to get. The convulsions lasted a long time; days and days, her family watched while she cursed them.
And I wanted that damn smell out of my hair.
To this day I can only befriend smokers from a distance. I bond with them, but I cannot smoke with them, or even be next to their smoking. (I'd probably kick them in the shins and steal their smokes.) I totally understand the why's of it all. I don't preach at smokers to quit, but I tell them my story. I think it gives them hope, they usually smile and say "I'm next." None of them ever say they are sorry for me that I quit.
I know in my heart that some day something really terrible will happen. I will then want to smoke. I've decided that if the terrible thing is that I am dying already, then certainly a dozen cases of Camel Straights will soften the blow. Otherwise, when I'm down wind of fresh smoke and the demon bites me I remember two things: that woman I mentioned, and my daughter when she was not even two. I found her with my purse emptied out, cigarette in one hand and matches in the other, a questioning look on her sweet face. She doesn't remember that now. And I am not going to remind her.