On Thursday, it will be four weeks since I’ve had a cigarette. I wear my 14 milligram nicotine patch, having stepped down from the 21 milligram patches. In about a week, I will step down to 7 milligram patches, and then, two weeks after that, will be nicotine free.
I miss cigarettes. I will continue to miss them.
Of course there are many things that I don’t miss. I don’t miss the constant dry throat, and the smell of smoke in my apartment. I don’t miss the absolutely horrible way I felt in the morning when I woke up.
I also don’t miss the way that smoking seemed to suck the energy out of me, so that long stretches of time consisted of sitting around smoking cigarettes. I don’t miss the constant, troublesome awareness that I was doing something truly horrible to myself, and that I needed to stop.
So I stopped. And when I stop something, I stop.
I miss it.
I miss those first two or three cigarettes in the morning. A morning cup of coffee and a morning cigarette…bliss. Smokers will speak fondly of those morning cigarettes, even as they contemplate how each drag is taking them one step closer to cancer or emphysema.
I miss those occasional breaks during the day to have a smoke. There are just times during the day where stepping outside to have a smoke is a beautiful thing. It just is.
I miss those cigarettes that I would have when I ate out. I’d get up, and have a smoke, and then I’d come back, and my appetizer would be waiting for me. I’d eat my appetizer, get up again, have another smoke, and when I returned, my meal would be waiting for me. I liked that.
I miss those times when I would smoke a cigarette with someone. There is something about the way that people bond over cigarettes that I can’t exactly describe, but it’s a bond like no other. Yes, people can have coffee together, but smoking together forges a certain bond that coffee simply doesn’t.
I miss having people bum smokes from me, and the look on their faces when I would give them two or three, and say “what goes around, comes around.” Cigarettes are, after all, expensive now, and giving someone two or three cigarettes (sometimes I’d even give four) is the equivalent of giving someone a buck or two. It just always gave me a feeling that was giving something to the karma bank, even if it could be argued that what I was giving someone was cancer and emphysema.
I remember last 4th of July, when I was with Megan, and an African American woman came up to us and asked her for a cigarette.
“Wait a minute,” I said, taking out my box of Newport 100s as Megan took out her box of Camel Platinums, “just to give you a choice, I smoke menthols, if you want one.”
I still remember the smile on the woman’s face, because African American folks tend to smoke menthols (and white people tend not to). It was just such a nice look of happy surprise.
“I owe you one,” she said.
“Here,” I said, “take two.”
“You’re kidding,” she said.
“Hey, what goes around, comes around,” I said. “Pay it forward. Happy 4th.”
I will miss those times that I would go for walks, sit on a bench, and just smoke a cigarette. I still sit on benches and think, of course, but there was something about just sitting there, cigarette in hand, thinking about nothing in particular. It was a great kind of nothing, and I when I sit on benches, I will always remember it fondly.
I don’t remember who said this, but there’s a quote that goes something like this: there are few achievements less satisfying than resisting a vice. It is just so true.
I don’t smoke. I am saving $300 a month. I am doing good things for my health.
I miss it still.