I’ve smoked off and on for years since I first tried a menthol “Salem” cigarette with some neighborhood boys in a fort that we had constructed at the end of our street on the summer of my 13th birthday.
I remember sucking the minty smoke and coughing and gagging like I had just inhaled a ball of glass infused cotton. It suffocated me, but I was COOL now… part of the IN crowd. We’d keep a pack of “community” smokes in the “rafters” of our summer fort, and that was the beginning of my relationship with nicotine (and possibly peer pressure).
Smoking was my way to have something in common with others. Growing up, I was not the most popular, the most attractive, the most athletically gifted or the smartest tack in the board. I sort of slipped through my teen years under the radar… the perfect observer… the perfect smoker. And besides, smoking was glamorous!
Throughout the rest of my life I continued to puff off and on; stealing a “True” cigarette (they had these plastic science fiction chamber-like filters that I’m SURE were useless in “providing the ultimate pleasure” like the advertising claimed) from my Mom’s pocketbook to share with my cousins in the dugout of the local ball field. In the seventies, empty crushed packs of Newports and Marlboro filled the back of my Volkswagen while 8-tracks of David Bowie and Led Zeppelin blasted my ears. I became a member of the “smoking lounge” cliques of the eighties, when smoking WAS permitted IN offices and the lounges were fog-filled and gossip loaded. I even went through an organic “clove” phase of smoking to fit in with the “back-to-basics” left wing liberals of the nineties. I’ve experimented with sexy thick cigars on occasion too; usually while playing pool or sipping scotch on a dark winter’s night.
Daryl and I smoked at the onset of our own relationship. We bonded over our mutual habit of having a beer or two while puffing our lives away as we discovered each other. Many a problem was solved while sharing several “Lights” on our patio as we chatted with neighbors on sun drenched evenings while the ashtray overflowed.
I’m honestly not sure WHAT the catalyst was for me stopping cold turkey this time, but I DO know that once I realized the amount of money I was spending daily, weekly, monthly and annually (over $2000) on this habit of mine, I decided it was time to give it a rest for good. Not to mention the obvious health-related issues that were sure to hack at me later in life.
Quitting wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. I just cut back the week before, changed some paths and habits I had locked onto and lo and behold it’s 365 days later!
Sure, I miss the camaraderie of hanging out with the smoking crew… hell, I’ve met some of my best friends outside smoking in sub zero temps as we shivered uncontrollably in sleet and freezing rain while holding an umbrella and coughing up phlegm, but I’m certain I made the right decision. Side note: Daryl quit 2 weeks after me.
I feel good now. I can breathe deeper, think clearer, and being with the “in-crowd” is certainly not important to me anymore. I think I may celebrate this latest life altering achievement with a glass or two of a rich Cabernet later since I’ve used the $2000 annual savings on my new favorite color. RED.