I went from a pack a day down to nothing at all and I’m still waiting for the shock to kill me. It’s kind of like holding your breath and leaping off a cliff–free falling, nothing to lose, and then a giant splat at the end. Actually, it is, in fact, nothing at all like jumping off a cliff, except for the part where it really, really sucks.
The quitting kind of came by accident–we were walking to the train stop, and I pulled out my last cigarette and lit it, and suddenly the train came, and we ran for it, and I threw that last cigarette, still lit, over my shoulder and somehow, I just didn’t buy another pack all weekend, and all week, and it was Saturday, just a few short days ago, and I had been quit for an entire week, just like that.
On this one hand, way over here in the good corner, I’m okay with that. Hooray for pink lungs! Hooray for healthy hearts and a distinct and palpable lack of cancer! Hooray for saving $35 a week and hooray for me and my fine, upstanding sense of self-preservation and discipline. The feeling of self-righteousness alone is so totally worth it.
On this sad and trembling hand that shakes over here in the corner in the dark, however, it sucks and I hate it I hate it I hate it. I like to smoke. No, I love to smoke. I love the ritual–pulling it from the pack, tapping it, lighting up, inhaling, tapping off the ash. I like how it feels in my hand; I like to gesture with it, and in my secret heart, I never really got over the idea that smoking makes you look cool, and I need all the cool I can get.
Also, there is the fact that some of my strongest, gut-punching moments of attraction to people have been watching them light up, taking a long drag, cocking an eyebrow at me through a column of smoke. Something about the sure hands, the tilt of the mouth, the whole casual elegance of smoking, the self-assurance. I’ve never said it was healthy–but really, when you’ve got sexy, who needs healthy? Please do not try to confuse me with your logic. Thank you.
So, on the plus side–healthy, well-being. On the minus side, a physical kind of comfort and a weird fetish. Health is going to win out, of course; I am not made of money, and I do love to breathe and run–but that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it.
Clearly, I’m not happy about it, because I went to a party last night and someone handed me a cigarette (read: I said, Oooh!” and they said, “Here!”) and I smoked it and asked for another and another (annoyingly, I am sure) and then another and another. Each one, I smoked down to the filter and gestured with and felt comfortable having it in my hands. But there was that undercurrent of no, bad, wrong, I shouldn’t be doing this, and I don’t want to be doing this. Why am I doing this?
It’s that same question I ask myself whenever I do something stupid, that I shouldn’t be doing–eating something that I know I’m going to pay for later, usually.
The exciting thing is this: I am getting better at listening to that little voice that whines, the one that wants to ruin all my fun. I resent the hell out of that squeaky bastard, and that is usually what has me breaking out the second handful of chocolate chips, pulling another cigarette out of the pack, ordering a third drink–chafing against that feeling of unfair, unfair, unfair that I hate so much. I thought I had gotten through that whole “life is unfair, so just suck it the fuck up” thing that you’re supposed to deal with when you are a teenager, but clearly not. Clearly, it still dogs me, and clearly, I still have work to do.
I’m doing the work. Life is unfair, and I’m trying to suck it up. Last night, I came home feeling vaguely sick after all the smoking, and I pulled down the bag of chocolate chips out of the cabinet, and I poured them into the toilet and flushed. This morning, I walked past the convenience store and I thought about veering right and asking for a big honking pack of delicious cigarettes to make me so happy and fulfill my life, but I kept walking and got a non-fat latte (14 grams of protein) instead. I did not order a muffin on the side. I am probably going to continue to eat things that are bad for me, on occasion–I never said that I was bright–but I am pretty sure that I am never going to smoke again. Possibly never. Almost assuredly. I am definitely sure that I will continue to think that life remains unfair, but eventually, I will get over myself. Probably.