10 years and a few days ago

I quit smoking. I didn't tell anyone about it at first. Quitting was a frequent thing for me, and I figured people were bored by my attempts. Cravings came strongest when drink was involved, and readers of this blog and folks who know me can correctly ascertain that drink was frequently involved. Days would end with me thinking 'I didn't smoke today'. Those days then stretched into weeks until it wasn't that big a deal to me anymore. I was proud of myself, don't get me wrong, but I never puffed my chest out. Not that I remember, anyway. Some folks I know may disagree.

I picked up some odd habits to help me cope. Hanging out outside with assembled smokers always appealed to me and I kept doing it, in spite of never sparking up myself. If friends are smoking, I still like to join them outside while they light up. Sometimes, usually in the pub, I would ask if I could borrow a cigarette and play with it, unlit. I would even mime smoking it for a second. That usually satisfied any hitherto dormant cravings. The lender - always a friend - would  shake their head at the weirdness of it all.

Some quitters find the smell still torments them. I never did. I didn't really like the smell when I smoked, and so it grew more abhorrent to me once I quit. I missed the finger movements though, and to this day I still clumsily flip pens around my digits.

I have hazy memories of some friends, quite early in my cigarette abstinence, making hashish infused-yoghurt for my benefit. It tasted wretched and got me high as a kite. I never tried it again. After a couple of years, I indulged in the odd cigar, though the hangovers of Cubans mixed with booze led to far more regret than pleasure. The odd joint passed my way and I would partake, though as I get older all it seems to do is make me tired.

Perhaps the strangest thing I've done since quitting is also the rarest: to treat a cigarette like a cigar, puffing on it but refusing to inhale. I've never done this sober and memories of the act are always blurry. I don't know why drinking brings on the urge to once again burn a trail down my lungs, but it does.

From time to time, I imagine starting again. It never lasts for more than a moment or two and it's never with any real urgency or need, but the thought crosses my mind nonetheless. When I dismiss it, it's not with revulsion but with a reassurance that I am not a smoker anymore. The various hangovers of the habit suffice and dwindle in frequency with every passing year, though I will probably always flick pens clumsily around my fingers.