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.