Featured song: “Sugar Mountain” by Neil Young
I have a huge problem with finality. With something coming to an end, to a close, that’s it, that’s all. Good, bad, whatever. I’ve grown to trust that once something or someone has entered your life, it has entered for a reason. That something or someone is worth fighting for. I still can’t wrap my head around something entering your life that is completely toxic, which you must eradicate. It hurts my heart to think about.
Enter: cigarettes. Which have become quite the enigma to me. Today, I am 288 days smoke free (thanks to a convenient little app on my phone) This is my second time quitting. I would say it’s my second time quitting successfully but I guess if it’s my second time, I’m not much of a success story..
I never thought I’d become a smoker – growing up I was never exposed to it. My Dad didn’t smoke, my Baba & Grandpa didn’t smoke. It was such a foreign concept to me. What the hell can a cigarette provide for someone? My Dad would often look at me and say, “I have no idea where you picked that up from. Cause it sure wasn’t me.” He was right.
I started smoking when I moved to Osborne Village in 2008, when I was 19. I moved into the basement of the Roslyn with two of my best guy friends and I distinctly remember one of them looking at me and saying, ‘By the end of this, you’re going to be a smoker.’ By the end of what? Us living together? That was over two years. I started smoking within months.
Those commercials that nag at kids for getting started with that one drag – they’re right, you know. It took one puff. One head rush. Another head rush. Then another. Then no head rush – maybe I can still get a head rush? Maybe if I have one more? I’m sure this one will give me that head rush. Nope…
And when I put my heart into something, I put my heart into something EXCESSIVELY. We smoked (I say ‘we’ because smoking becomes a bonding experience, doesn’t it?) when we woke up, after we ate, before we ate, before we went out, when we stayed up, when we drank. We would go to the gym together, WORK OUT, then smoke in the parking lot. I smoked so much that I had to switch my smoking fingers to my middle finger & ring finger cause the others were permanently stained yellow. Any of my friends will tell you that.
I was in a long distance relationship, and when my boyfriend came back, I knew I had to quit – cause really, he didn’t know I smoked like a chimney. I think I liked kissing better than smoking, so I quit. But still, I romanticized the idea. I missed drinking coffee and having cigarettes. I missed having heart to hearts and having cigarettes. I never considered myself to be done for good. I probably should have. But I didn’t.
My Granddad & my Granny, back in the day:
My most recent ex had a beautiful wooden box of cigars that I took a liking to, cause hey, they weren’t cigarettes! So I smoked a lot (a lot) of those and considered it to be ‘allowed’ cause they weren’t cigarettes. Yes Griffin. Inhaling Cuban cigars is so much better. We traveled to the States and I bought an e-cigarette to smoke in our hotel room, but you can only smoke so much cherry-flavoured vapour before you want a real cigarette. And I whined. And we bought a carton of my favourite cigarettes: Camel Crush. You know those ones where you snap the capsule in the filter and you can change it to menthol? Any time you want? My kryptonite.
Sometimes I’m fortunate to have duelling personalities – and in this case, it was the Griffin who swooned and sentimentalized over cigarettes, versus the Griffin who gets panicked by death, and illness (cigarettes have been known to cause cancer..) So, in a battle against my anxiety, I decided this was the better option. Again. 288 days again. And a huge part of me hopes this is it. (Don’t get me wrong, I still adore the scent of smouldering tobacco. I feel there is no need for people to apologize for smoking around me – is that weird?)
But finality is hard for me. It’s so defined. And I’m trying to learn every day that some things in life just aren’t good for you, no matter how much you want them to be. Some things aren’t going to benefit your health, your happiness, your time. In fact, they are there to do the exact opposite. You can worship the idea of those things all you want, and go back again and again and again. The end result is usually the same. I still feel so cynical when I quit fighting for things that were such a huge part of my life.. It’s a day-by-day learning process that I hope gets simpler. I’d like to think it’s easier in the case of cigarettes, because the warning signs are right on the package. Life proves to be challenging because the warning signs aren’t so obvious.