I have been smoke free since February 2010, but oh my god, I want a cigarette so damn bad today. I dreamed about smoking last night. A pack of Sampoerna, all crisp and white with that bold red square in the middle; the white A stark and dignified over a gold basketweave pattern. Taking one of the slim, graceful tubes and lighting it, hearing the deep, slow crackle as I inhale. The slightly spicy smell of the smoke, the sweet taste left on my lips because they dip the filters in honey…
I’m sorry, where was I? It’s nice how people praise me for not smoking while I was pregnant, and I probably would have quit no matter what, but I don’t think I earned the praise I get for it. That was easy; smoke was one of the things that made me puke. I also quit when I was pregnant with Isaac, although I started smoking on the way home from the doctor’s office when we found out we were losing him. I think that’s fair enough. I did have a few early on in both pregnancies, but only as I was stepping down.
Most of the time I was pregnant, I would say, “I hope I don’t start smoking again after the baby.” Then I realized that what I was actually saying was, “I am going to start smoking again after the baby.” So I decided I meant it; I’m tired of having chest colds that last two months and having my joints ache if I don’t get a smoke break. I’m tired of huddling outside in the cold and the rain. I’m tired of missing parts of movies, of having to take a ten-minute pause before every activity. I’m tired of holes burned in the seat of my car.
I started smoking right after I got divorced, as an act of defiance. Not that I needed to be defiant at that point, but that’s another story. When I was married to M (I’m going to let him stay anonymous), he would throw a fit every time I would bum a cigarette. I didn’t do it often; usually only when I was out at the bar.
M was outright rude about it; he would treat me with disgusted contempt for hours if he caught a whiff of smoke on me. That’s fair, I guess; some non-smokers are very sensitive to the smell, I get that. He tended to treat me like a child (I was very immature; it wasn’t entirely out of nowhere) and that really bothered me. So I proved how grown up I was by starting to smoke a pack a day as soon as he moved out, and continuing to do so for eight years.
I’m pretty pleased at how well I’ve done. I’ve once or twice stolen a puff off of one of Chip’s cigarettes, but never more than that. The few times I’ve weakened and asked him for “just one,” he looks at me so scathingly that I wind up with scathe all over me. Pretty high and mighty for someone smoking a pack a day, but I’m actually grateful for it.
I tell people about quitting smoking to keep me from it. I have a lot of pride (it’s shame I’m lacking), and I don’t want to admit to people that I’ve failed at this. Plus, I really don’t want to get any sanctimonious looks from strangers if I’m smoking while pushing a stroller. I wouldn’t want to expose E to more smoke anyway, or to secondhand nicotine via milk. The last thing that child needs is a stimulant.
The one thing I really have in my favor is that they don’t sell Sampoerna in the U.S. So it isn’t as if I was facing them down every time I went in a store. I couldn’t have the experience I want anyway; it would have to be menthols, or those shitty Djarums that make your mouth go numb. So three cheers for staying smoke free, ultimately just because I’m a tobacco snob.