This was written for The Red Dress Club‘s memoir writing project, Remembe(red).
I really appreciate comments and feedback.
Concrit is always welcome, and thanks for taking the time!
Write about the first (or second) memory that
comes to mind when you see this:
I will always be an ex-smoker.
I'm one of the “lucky” ones; quitting wasn't a challenge for me. I didn't know I was quitting at the time, because I was admitted to the hospital for six weeks and I was so busy trying not to die, it didn't even occur to me to be miserable about quitting.
I had smoked a pack (or more) a day for about 7 years; an inexorable part of my life. Wake up, have a smoke. Get in the car, grab a cigarette. Break at work, I could get in 2 cigarettes in a 10 minute break.
It had its low points, of course… huddling under an awning in the rain, trying to stay dry so I could get my fix. The coughing. Paying $4 or more per pack. The cherry that flew off my cigarette while driving on the freeway, falling down my back and burning my flesh and the car seat. The yellow-stained fingernails. The smell of stale tobacco and smoke following me everywhere I went, the minty gum and perfume fooling no one.
But, oh, a smoke and a cup of coffee. Sitting with my girlfriends on a café patio, drinking cup after cup of over-sweet mocha java, chatting, laughing and chain smoking. My friend Kristy and I used to buy trashy Cosmo magazines and we'd lay on her bedroom floor smoking Capri 120s and reading the articles, taking the embarrassing sex quizzes out loud.
Smoking was great. It gave me something in common with people I'd meet at the bar, an automatic community of people wherever I went. We would look into buildings from outside, feeling smug, superior and cooler than the non-smokers inside.
I'm not one of those obnoxiously proud ex-smokers; I don't cough delicately when someone comes back in the room from a smoke break. I don't harass friends into quitting. I'm proud and happy when they do, but it's not my call if they smoke or don't.
Because if I had my choice, I'd still smoke.
I. Still. Miss. It. Every. Single. Day.
And I hate that it still has that power over me. Almost a third of my life has passed since I was a smoker, but I still crave it sometimes. Sitting at that same café with the same girlfriends, even though none of us smoke anymore. Watching a dark European film where everyone apparently chain smokes still gets me. A fresh doughnut and a cup of coffee makes me miss the rhythmic tapping into the ashtray.
I wish I'd never started, because if I'd never taken that first drag, I wouldn't know what I was “missing out” on, wouldn't still be missing those things.
When I drive down the street and see someone smoking on the sidewalk, the first thought that goes through my head is “People still do that?” and yet, I think I'd probably still be one of them if I'd never gotten sick. I worry about explaining this to Max; don't start, kiddo, because trust me and your dad. Being an ex-smoker is tougher than dealing with turning your buddies down now. Better to be un-cool for a minute today than to be stuck with these cravings forever.
But I can't worry about that today. Today, I'll concentrate on my journey as an ex-smoker. And look forward to having 10 years, 3 months, 22 days under my belt.