WARNING: Don’t Read If You Quit Smoking Yesterday

I smoked on and off from 15 until 24 years old.  I committed to the practice with some vigor for those last five years.  (Overall, I tend to have stopping issues, but I can commit the heck out of something.)

I don’t remember the exact date I quit.  I know that it was in between my 24th birthday on September 6, 2002 and the first date with my wonderful husband on September 11, 2002.

I am VERY happy that I quit.  And stayed quit.  I don’t miss the stink.  Or the cost.  Or the health risks.  I can smell again.  I can run.  (I don’t.  But I could.)

And so is my husband.  Because he HATES smoking.  In fact, he was nervous when we first began dating that I smoked.  And he wasn’t sure that he could date a smoker.  (He could date crazy.  But a smoker?  HOLY COW THAT’S DISGUSTING.)

He actually never saw me smoke.  But I’m a hoarder.  Not HOARDERS level but I do not like to run out.  Of paper towels.  Of toilet paper.  Of hair ties.  And, back in 2002, of cigarettes.  S would reach under my car seat for the pen he dropped and pull out a carton of Parliament Lights.  (The alternative girl’s cigarette.  Cooler than Marlboro Lights.  Not as gross as Marlboro Reds.  And didn’t have an anatomically-incorrect camel on them.)  He would move some medical school notebooks (yes, I was smoking in medical school.  you don’t have to be a genius or a prude to get in.) and a cigarette would roll out of my homework.

But I HAD quit.  I was done.  I never smoked again.  Eventually, I collected all the cigarettes strewn about my apartment and gave them away.  (I would NEVER throw them away.  Please.)

Lean in now. Here’s the secret that the newly quit smoker must never hear. Every so often, I miss smoking.  I miss the forced five-minute-break from life.  I miss the camaraderie with fellow smoking outcasts.  I see a picture of a beautiful woman smoking a cigarette, and I miss it.  I read about a writer sitting by her desk smoking a cigarette, and I miss it.

I explain this to my husband, and he looks at me with a mixture of disgust and apprehension.  He doesn’t get it.  And that’s great!  It’s better than a high-five and a lighter.

I know the studies and the health risks.  I know the example that I want to set for my young children.

BUT from the studies that I’ve read, I’ve gleaned something else.  There is an age where, if you make it to as a smoker, you are probably going to die of something OTHER than smoking-related illnesses.  For the sake of this post (and my not having to find the research again), let’s say the age is 80 years old.

I also know that in all likelihood, I will outlive my husband.  Not because I’m so much healthier.  Not because I’m hoping for some alone time.  But because, statistically, women tend to outlive men.

So I’ve formed a plan.  And as my husband and I are getting ready for bed, I inform him.

I am going to smoke again. (S’s eyebrows go UP.)

Not today.  Not even tomorrow. (I say reassuringly.)

But the day you pass away, I’m sure to be well over 80 years old.  And as I walk out of your funeral, I’m LIGHTING UP.

It’ll be a bittersweet moment, sweetie.  But I’ll blow a heck of a smoke ring in your honor.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

25 thoughts on “WARNING: Don’t Read If You Quit Smoking Yesterday

  1. I had no idea that you were a former smoker. Im sure that you picked up on my smoking habits. I don't know why I started again after Eo weened himself. Considering I had quit cold turkey the second I found out I was pregnant and didn't think twice the whole time I was pregnant and breastfeeding. Well when he passes we can both smoke a cigarette together. 🙂

  2. I am completely and utterly onboard. I quit a year ago but L and I frequently talk about the strange and totally random cravings. On the way to the gym? Walking the dog? While organizing a room? What the heck! Thanks for your honesty!

  3. you are so funny! my grandmother used to smoke — she's 87 now and not in the best health (mentally or physically). i always think that i'd like to bring her a pack of cigarettes and let her have at it. what's the worst that could happen? i wonder if they allow smoking in her assisted living facility?
    p.s. for some reason, i too find those vintage photos appealing.

  4. Ah! I smoked habitually from 11th grade until my junior year of college and then only when I “went out” which was often until I got married… 🙂 Parliament Lights too! I totally know what you mean… I DO miss it at times…

  5. Totally with you on this one. Alex and I quit the moment we found out I was pregnant with Julian (3 years ago), but every so often we'll look at each other and think “God, a cigarette would be fantastic right now!” Annnnnd, he's a Pulmonologist, so….yeah.

  6. Totally with you on this one. Alex and I quit the moment we found out I was pregnant with Julian (3 years ago), but every so often we'll look at each other and think “God, a cigarette would be fantastic right now!” Annnnnd, he's a Pulmonologist, so….yeah.

  7. You, little missy, are a fab writer. I've tried it a few times but knew I couldn't keep “trying” it or I would be hooked. The idea appeals to me for an odd reason. And on the DL, in college I even liked kissing boys after they smoked. HAH! At Baylor that was being rebellious. 😉

  8. I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS post! I thought maybe i was the only person who really misses smoking. I don't smoke and haven't for years and years but every once and a while when I am talking to a friend who is smoking, I stand downwind 😉 That is a fantastic idea to start again when hubby dies and yo'll be too old to suffer any reprecussions! ha ha ha ha Well Done!

  9. Happened upon you here & this drew my attention. Yeah I closet-smoked Parliaments too. I'm 50 & just had a heart attack. Even tho I know it wasn't the cigs that caused the heart attack, the docs always say it was (in reality it was probably stress)- so I had to give them up. It is probably one of the biggest things I resent post heart attack. That guilt, not being able to pick one up & just smoke away makes me nuts. Like I've lost that happy-go-lucky, hey who cares zestiness in life. But I keep planning the 80 year old thing too. All those years I kept my smoking to a couple a day- damn I shouldv'e just smoked whatever I wanted!

  10. This has been one of those months when smoking again would have been really helpful. But man those things are crazy expensive now too bad I have to feed the kids. Smoking was so helpful when I went off to college and some idiot told me I HAD to participate in the getting to know you freshman M&M orientation activity. As I walked off with the “I don’t have to do anything you tell me” look.
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..Wish List — this is a work in progress =-.

  11. I smoked for much, much longer. I also smoked Reds. I am so glad I quit too. I probably never would have if not for pregnancy. And, this is so dead on. I don’t miss the stink. I can breathe again. I can smell again.

    But, like you, I totally plan on taking it up again when I’m old and stinky and crotchety and just waiting for death. I figure it will speed up the process. LOL
    .-= Martha´s last blog ..Apparently being a douche makes Anderson Cooper an expert on racism =-.

  12. I feel this with every fiber of my being.

    Because really? All the cool kids smoke. And I miss that. Now when people leave to go smoke, I’m stuck with their boring halves.

    So when I am old? It is a promise to myself. Love you.

  13. I quit for good the day before I got married. March 28, 2008. I almost asked a fellow BlogHer to let me tag along when she left for a smoke break but I resisted. “The forced 5 minute break from life!” That’s exactly what I miss.

  14. HAHAHA, this…ALLL this. I quit 2 years ago and I miss it from time to time. I despise the smell, but I miss that break you speak of. That timed break from life. It was like meditating. Maybe I should actually meditate?

  15. My girlfriend told me that I have no idea how hard it is to quit. She eventually challenged me, to smoke for the summer with her, with the idea of smoking as much as she does (around 20 cigarettes or one pack daily) and then we’ll “quit together”. In desperation, I agreed.

    Long story-short, it’s been 3 years and we’re both smoking. She was right. 🙁

    It took all that I could muster up to admit it to friends, family, etc.

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