During the War, they rationed tobacco for the folks left behind. The soldiers got their smokes for free. Smoking calmed the collective nerve. I started smoking again during the anthrax mail scare in late 2001. I rationalized that it was foolish to deny myself pleasure as the unfolding months surely proved that the end times were upon us. I certainly felt calmer.
After 49 days, the urge to attack strangers slowly counting change in front of me in the check out line is fading. I no longer, normally, feel the need to break things for the pleasure of having them broken. When my boyfriend sends me links like this one, I no longer send back snide emails on my desire to strangle him.
It’s hard to imagine not having another smoke. I can’t. I’m plotting ways to reward myself by thinking of possible future smokes: a distant, hazy scene in the future, where a cigarette comes with the turf, like a bar in Riga or Warsaw filled broken humor and spotty conversation. Better, because it will happen sooner, a campground in the Rockies, the kids from the RV brigade riding by on their bikes, me sitting on the picnic table in the sun, smoking. Does this mean that I will smoke again? I do not know.
This is not the longest time I’ve been ‘smoke-free’, a ironic label if there ever was one as I’m fixated by smoking, and I’m finding harder to quit. This is something I never expected. Once cigarettes were about friends, good times, bar-hopping, sex. Now that I am older, a cigarette is the physical manifestation of my need to be still and think: it is a stepping away from me. Even at a crowded party, you can light up a cigarette and walk out into the cool night, stand in the middle of a yard of no one you know, and not a single person will ask you why. That is what I like about smoking. A non-smoker does not understand the pleasure of this, the addiction and what answer it promises.