Thursday, October 25, 2007

It's Hip to be square

So, I did it. I finally quit smoking. It's funny because I was always the girl at the bar with the cigarette hanging out of her mouth. I would drunkenly lament on how disgusting my habit was, while lighting up another menthol. I would even go so far as to chastise my friends with good enough sense to quit long before I ever would. I loved to smoke – but I hated the hold that it had taken over my life.

I had been talking for months about quitting. First, I stopped smoking in my apartment (besides the occasional cigarette-out-the-window) and liked that it helped me cut back. Then, about 3 weeks ago, I got sick. I spent a Sunday so hungover that I could barely move, followed by a Monday-Thursday of severe cold and sinus symptoms. It sucked, but I didn't smoke because of my sore throat.

After the fourth day of being sick and surviving my days in a haze of Thera-Flu and Day-Quil induced idiocy, I wanted a cigarette. I felt that craving crawl up my toes and through my fingers as I reached towards my purse for the familiar green box. I couldn't wait to feel the cool mentholated smoke curl around my tongue and vacuum its way into my lungs.

And then I stopped myself.

I found myself thinking, What if? It had been 4 days. What if I didn't have one? What could possibly happen? So I put down the box and curled up on the couch with my dog.

It felt good.

I am only on my 3rd week of not smoking, but I already feel like one of those non-smokers that I hated. I cringe at the smell of smoke on the sidewalk as I walk to my office from the El in the morning. I find myself thinking about how happy I am that it is no longer me stinking up a crowded elevator with the smell of stale cigarettes. I love that my hair doesn't stink. I like that I will no longer have to worry about paying 8 freaking dollars a pack in Chicago when I would inevitably run out of my suburban-purchased cartons.

I am not going to lie, there are days I miss my cigarettes immensely. When I leave work, I think about how it would be so calming to light one up. But then again, would it really calm me down? No. It's just a lie that we, as smokers, tell ourselves in order to rationalize our commitment to the addiction.

The weird thing is – quitting really isn't as hard as I thought it would be. It's only been 3 weeks and I feel better already. I feel liberated and proud that I could accomplish a task I feared for so long. The best part of it is – I know I can do this. It's done. No more smoking.

So long smoking buddies – no longer will I huddle with you shamed in the cold. No longer will I scour my purse for a lighter, cursing as I realize that I left it in my other coat pocket. I will meet you inside where it's warm – and I look forward to seeing you there.