Monday, April 03, 2006

Curing Myself

There are days when I don’t even think about it. There are more days that I think about it all the damn time. The worst of it came about a week after LJ and I got out here. We went to a casino to look around and decided to have a drink at a bar. So, we’re sitting there and I look around and at every table everyone is smoking. I quickly refocus my gaze down at the table to stem the rising urges and the ashtray seems to be so empty, too empty. Like some meaningless object that needed me to become what it was meant to be, it was calling to me. I started making deals with myself. “Ok”, I thought, “I’ll just smoke in casinos and that’s it. Hell, not even all the casinos just this one…and…and only in this bar. Yeah, in fact only at this table so if I come here and stroll past and see that this table is taken I can’t smoke that day.” But that wouldn’t have happened and I knew it.

I have to say that LJ wasn’t much help that night. She said that she didn’t think that she was going to quit smoking anyway. Easy for her to say, Mrs. smokes maybe one cigarette a week and never feels like having one. She went on to say that she was thinking of having a cigarillo right then and there. When I heard this I thought, “Damn, I can do it! Here is the chance I need. She said she wanted to smoke maybe I can get a pack of cigarettes. Yes!” I even asked the waitress if they had packs for sale. “No”, she said but then motioned to a glass door to the right of the bar where cigarettes were sold. All sorts! I spent most of that evening sitting there, thinking about that door and the colorful little boxes within. God, I wanted nothing more than to walk through that door and into that warm glow and smell the clean plastic coated boxes and the aroma of dried tobacco.

REWIND: About three years ago in Athens, Georgia I smoked a cigarette that started me on a habit that didn’t end until a little more than a month ago. Over the past few years I had smoked about one pack a week sometimes more, sometimes less, during this period. I never really loved the idea that I smoked it just got to be one of those things I did to relax. Marlboro (reds, 100’s, and 27’s), Benson & Hedges, Camels, really what ever would give me my nicotine fix.

I am now proud to say that I have gone a month and a half without one smoke (honestly more like two, but I broke down after the failed CLAST exam and had a pack). It wasn’t easy either, let me tell ya, and I’m still not all the way there. I feel that if I can make it a year without smoking then I will have successfully kicked the habit. Still, I am a little concerned because there is so much temptation out here. Smoking, in Reno, is allowed everywhere. There is smoking in restaurants, in public buildings, even in grocery stores. I can’t tell you how weird it is to walk into a grocery store and immediately smell that familiar stale odor wafting at you. For a recent ex-smoker it is like biscuits and gravy.

All of my co-workers smoke and every fucking day they ask me to come outside with them, that I can even bum a cigarette if I want. And you’re God damned right “I want”. However, every day I say “No”, that “I’m trying to quit” and that “I have come too far to give up now.” Still, every day they invite me. I don’t hate them for this; I just wish they’d stop inviting me. I wish that I didn’t see it everywhere.

They say a smoker’s always a smoker when the chips are down. Maybe, but for now I’m no smoker and I want desperately for it to stay that way. I think I can do it too. Every day gets just a little bit easier. Oh well, one month down ten and a half to go.