Yep. A total quitter. Seventeen days (minus a slight slip-up on Sunday night after a few cocktails) now. My seventeen year love affair with cigarettes is over.
I started smoking the summer my parents sent to me to DC for a summer college program. It was my first time out on my own in the big city for eight weeks. I had a dorm room. I had a roommate. I had college i.d. that worked to make me “legal” when I bought a pack of Marlboro Reds (which you could buy in the student bookstore back then). Smoking felt tough and naughty and I thought it made my pipsqueak self look like an actual college student. I felt like a bad, bad girl and I liked it.
When I went home, I had to go undercover. My parents aren’t cigarette people. My friends weren’t cigarette people. I made new friends. We skipped class to smoke in the parking lot, in the bathroom, off campus. I was an honors student, had never been a problem and I was a senior- no one minded if I acted up a little and I was smart enough not to get caught.
Then there was theatre school and smoking in all black. Years of crappy jobs smoking in alleys. Lots of bourbon and smoking. Lots of coffee and smoking. Smoking my way through the midnight oil of law school. Smoking while I waited up to see if my fiance’ would come home or stay out drinking (and doing God knows what) all night. Smoking after conference calls and on lunch breaks. Smoking in airports, at hotel bars, and in front of my keyboard. Smoking after bad news. Smoking as the reward for good news.
My good friend smoking, I’m sorry I have to quit you. And trust me, I’m not enjoying it. I made it a few days and caved in and bought an “emergency” pack. And then drastically lowered my definition of emergency. But after I made it three days without smoking at one stretch, it got to the point where I could smell cigarette smoke again. And you know what? It doesn’t smell so hot. And the rest of the world? Smells pretty ok- not that I had smelled it well in years.
Besides, when I caved in and smoked, it felt bad. Not just physically bad, the way my lungs hurt the next morning. Morally bad. Like I was lying to everyone who had been so supportive and proud when I quit. And also like I was going to have to start all over again. And those first three days- not the best part of quitting.
So, I sent my emergency pack out of the house with a friend. I threw away all the emergency ashtrays and emergency lighters. I parted ways with the emergency exact change in my wallet in case I wanted a late night run to grab some out of the machine at the bar around the corner. I told my Facebook friends. I told my Twitter friends. I even told my regular bartender so I didn’t get tempted over cocktails. I bought the patch.
It’s still a little tempting. I confess. Late at night when no one is looking I think, who would know? But I would. And my guilt threshold is too low for that. Also, I really like the smell of fresh air.