I used to smoke. A lot. Three packs a day of Camels. And not the “what, you wearin’ panties?” filtered cigarettes either. I smoked filterless Camels. Nothing was going to get between me and that sweet, carcinogenic flavor of Turkish tobacco. After 10 years of that, I quit. Suddenly a whole world of tastes and smells reemerged from the periphery of my senses. I remember how salty everything suddenly was. I also remember how the fresh air coming in my windows no longer took odors out, but carried in the scents of blooms and the outdoors.
I don’t want to start smoking again.
Fifteen years later though, the urges still occasional pop up from nowhere. When the sun is shining in the window just right and the room has that glow it only carries once or twice a year. When the temperatures start to drop in September and the air smells of leaves. When it’s absolutely frigid outside and an exhale of warm, moist air is dense enough to look like smoke itself. Those were the times I actually enjoyed smoking.
I’ve long suspected that it was more what other activities I was doing at the time and not the smoking itself. The just-right orange hue of a room at sunset? I was probably enjoying video games after school. The autumn leaves? Sneaking a smoke between classes or during lunch. Ditto for the cold, crisp mornings. (Raise your hand if you also palm-smoked cigarettes on the way back from Mr. Pauley’s metals shop.) Like someone sneaking up and startling you from nowhere, there it is. And everything comes flooding back. The songs you were listening to. The mood you were in. How you felt. Even your hand seems to have that all-too familiar smell of having just held a smoke.
It’s a nostalgia of sorts. Remembering how you were in days gone by. Longing for the past and all that came with it. The friends who were still around, the hopes you still had, the years left ahead of you. It’s interesting how those things tie themselves together. I’m just glad I’ve enough willpower to overcome the addictions of the past. I’m also thankful that I remember the many negatives from the smoking itself and not just the good times it happened to accompany.