December 18, 2010
For the nth time, I decided to quit for reasons that will remain personal for the time being. On December 15, exactly 8:45 a.m., after finishing editing an essay, I went downstairs to smoke. I lighted a cigarette and smoked my first stick of the day, a 6-year old habit. After that, I went to the bathroom and suddenly, out of nowhere, I decided to throw my last 5 sticks and my lighter. That was it. Not a bang, not even a whimper, but a sudden decision to stop. I have tried to stop before so it was not a big deal. It was like one part of me, the smoker part, was just patronizing the non-smoker side. “Okay,” he says. “Let’s see how long you’ll last this time.” I survived my first three days of not smoking, no cheating. The longest I have been without a cigarette since 2006. So now, I am coughing like a literary character suffering from consumption; this is supposedly a transition phase in which my lungs are expelling all the nicotine that I have inhaled for many years. An ironic twist, I never had severe coughs when I was smoking. My friend said that these coughing episodes will last at least a month. My chest and throat hurt from coughing; now I understand why some people never even try quitting. The ugly period of transition is enough to make you light another stick, just one. One won’t hurt. That classic Carrie Bradshaw line still echoes in my head every now and then, “I have an addiction!” Carrie clad in designer clothes shouted with style, gusto and recriminations to the one who dared ask her to stop.