‘Cause I don’t know who I am,
who I am without you
All I know is that I should
~ Missy Higgins
As Jerry Seinfeld said, a breakup is like pushing over a soda machine. Smoking cigarettes is a relationship I honestly never wanted to break up. I do wince at pictures of blackened lungs, but my rebellious spirit really responded to the past decade’s or so vilification of cigarette smokers. I’m finally quitting, hooray, but it’s pretty emotional.
I know I shouldn’t smoke. But I’ve seen the light of the dark side of smoking, so it’s not as easy to leave as it may seem. Cigarettes feel like a friend. When everything is bad in the world, a smoke can make it better for a tiny bit of time. Sometimes, that feels like enough.
When I first learned to handle a cigarette, I felt a step cooler for the guy who taught me how to do it, that I was crushing on.
When I first learned to inhale, I was able to comfort myself in my car between college classes as I worried about the ambivalence of a different boy, and our subsequent breakup.
When I first learned that cigarettes squelched my appetite and made me feel jolly, I spent a summer trading Marlboro Lights and Metabolifes for junk food, and got slim, for me.
When I got my first boyfriend after various lonely attempts at Life Improvement including, but not limited to, the Metabolife/Marlboro summer, I freaked the fuck out and packed on the pounds.
When I lost that same person that I thought would be by my side forever, I smoked, and I smoked, and I smoked. And maybe it was bad for me, but God knows, did I need it.
When I spent the next seemingly endless year or so feeling that truly, it was my destiny to be unloved forever, cigarettes helped me say screw it, what else is out there. When all else failed, I could light up a smoke.
Cigarettes have been my constant for the past 10 years. 16 years, if you count non-inhaling posturing. They have been a shield, a shelter, a friend. I have new friends now. A better life, without smoking. I think. But no more smoking is a goodbye to an extremely treasured safety net.
Saying goodbye to cigarettes SUCKS. I don’t want to. But life is better now, and if ever there were a time…
And I think I can…I think I can…eventually I’ll know I can. I hope.