Yesterday, I went to lunch with a friend. Going out to lunch used to be my absolute favorite thing to do before I had kids and yesterday totally reminded me why. We sat outside on South Street, drank wine and martinis, ate salads and shared this awesome Greek appetizer sampler with hummus and olives and warm pita. We chatted, watched people walk by, waved at the people on the duck boats, and sipped our drinks. It was mommy’s day off, something I really hope to establish as a regular monthly thing.
Because we were outside, there were a lot of people smoking various things. I love the smell of smoke. I used to smoke but I quit three years ago. Three years ago, today, actually. I will admit to having a fleeting thought that a cigarette would be a perfect addition to that lunch, but I know myself well now. I’ve gone down that road before and it never ends at just one for me. I am, or was, a true smoker. I would be craving another cigarette while I was still smoking one. I was a total slave to it. And when I quit, there was no ‘cutting back’ or ‘phasing it out’. It was cold turkey, baby, because for me, anything else was me just lying to myself and making excuses to smoke more cigarettes. So I gave up three years ago, and since then, the only cigarettes I’ve smoked have been in my dreams.
We must have been sitting there awhile because we’d had quite a bit to drink and had to move tables three times because the sun kept disappearing behind a building. Towards the end of our second martini, my friend looked at me apologetically and excused herself to find a cigarette. WHAT?! I had no idea that she ever even smoked! ‘Only when I drink,’ she told me. She said she’s good at hiding it and her husband didn’t know. I am consumed with jealousy at statements like that because I was never able to be a casual or social smoker. I was a full-time stinky mess who planned her day around it. But she had one, and bummed another one off a guy on the street who charged her a dollar, which she had no problem with, saying that she’d rather pay a dollar for one than buy a whole pack because she didn’t want to smoke a whole pack. I remember finding that extremely annoying when I was a smoker.
I walked next to her, smelling the smoke and wishing I could have just one drag. Just one. But I didn’t because I couldn’t. I don’t mean to sound dramatic about it. It was just a really big part of my life for a really long time and I guess three years isn’t enough to completely erase the prior fifteen. Whatever, I didn’t do it and today I celebrate three whole smoke-free years. Three years without a persistent cough. Three years without shortness of breath or smelly hair or excusing myself from work/conversations/LIFE to go out and smoke. It’s awesome really, and freeing.
The only thing I wonder is, when do the dreams stop? When do the random cravings stop? How long before I go from being a ‘quitter’ to being a full-fledged non-smoker? I thought I was there already, but after yesterday, I’m not sure.