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What I miss most about smoking
November 1, 2009
I would like to say that I have not had a cigarette in over a year, but that would be a lie. In my head I “quit” when I got married and started a new job three years ago. But instead, I became an “in limbo” smoker. I refrained from smoking all day at work, but as soon as I got home I indulged. I told people I was a “non-smoker,” but yet I stood on my back porch and puffed furiously on a cigarette at least a few nights a week. I washed my hands several times and changed outfits to conceal the evidence. Every time I smoked a cigarette, I felt an immense sense of guilt and pleasure at the same time.
Drinking without cigarettes was even harder. Or let’s say, drinking without cigarettes never really happened for me. Why is it you can go days, even weeks without a smoke, but as soon as you have a few beers you feel the need to have one hand glued to a pack of Marlboros?
My parents never smoked, and often reiterated their wishes that I never smoke either. Growing up, my only exposure to cigarettes was the weekly visits from my grandmother and aunt. I remember riding in my grandmother’s Ford Granada and being disgusted by the stale smoke smell. I was also fascinated by the way the gray plumes of smoke curled upward, dancing toward the ceiling.
I picked up the habit when I was 17. At first, it was something to do when I was hanging out with my friends trying to look “cool.” By the time I got to college, the cigarette was my ultimate stress buster. As an English major, I wrote tons of papers and thus, had tons of cigarette butts accumulating in my ashtray next to my computer. I could not write a single word without that first drag on a cigarette.
I think what I miss most about smoking was the way it slowed the world down for those few moments. Think of the cigarette as the comma in the rhythmic language of everyday modern, hectic life. When you're a smoker, you always take time out for a smoke break no matter how busy you are. It is a mental and physical need, even more overpowering than the need to eat. Give me a choice between just a few short smoke breaks or a lunch break, and I would take the smoke breaks hands down.
Now, I am five months pregnant and there is no turning back on this “in limbo” kind of smoking. I can honestly say I haven’t had a cigarette since June. I have had urges to smoke, but I know I would feel guilty if I smoked one now. I could use this pregnancy as a new beginning. I could finally be done with smoking forever. Once the baby is born, I will still tell people I am a non-smoker. No one is going to see me smoking in the parking lot at work or smoking in my car. But that does not mean I won’t be hiding out at night in my husband’s greenhouse.