My Relationship to Smoking

Cigarettes were recommended to me my freshman year at Kenyon. I was told that smoking “would fit my aesthetic,” though the same person later told me that I had no aesthetic, so I’m not sure what to make of that. It was wintry for late October, and on a recognizable swing in the freshman quad, I smoked two Marlboro Golds that I didn’t really enjoy. He said this was a good moment because it was better to smoke when it was cold, though I have since learned I don’t necessarily agree. Your fingers don’t freeze off in the summer, but then again, the tobacco doesn’t mix with snow flakes either. I smoked two cigarettes, got absurdly dizzy, and knew I’d be smoking again soon. It wasn’t that I particularly liked the taste or the nicotine high; it was that I kind of agreed with him, it made sense for me. A noncommittal way to self-destruct.

I smoked cigarettes because the boyfriend I was with at the time smoked cigarettes and he wanted both to kill me and keep me alive as miserable as he was. I smoked the Newports he found on a floor at an Old K party, the Turkish Royals he picked out just for me, and, of course, the Marlboro Golds that were our favorite. I became obsessed with the brands, who smoked what kind of cigarette and why, because I seized little details to keep myself grounded. At my height, I estimate I was smoking a few cigarettes a week and several on the weekends. I tried to limit my intake so that when I started to feel a craving, I stopped for a couple of days.

I smoked weed for the first time the following January. I got a little high, which is rare for the first time, but we credited my success to my smoking experience. Then, an obsessive love affair began as I did my best to drown myself in the drugs that wouldn’t destroy me if I was careful enough. And I was careful enough. Even as I was literally suffocating myself, I kept resisting the pull of addiction because only part of me had died and I knew the rest could come back. I kept smoking even after we broke up. Weed was for self-medicating and cigarettes were for memories.

My relationship to smoking has changed now. I don’t partake anymore because smoking defined that period of my life. The further I get from there, the more the compulsion lessens. I still kind of think it’s okay to have one cigarette on the weekends, but I know for myself that that would never stay so limited. Honestly, I haven’t met many people who sustained the smoking once a week thing without either deciding they don’t like it or buying their first pack. The bottom line is that smoking cigarettes is bad for you. It’s expensive, it’s inhaling chemicals, and it’s hellish to quit. I was a minor smoker by any consideration and part of me still craves a hit when I smell smoke.

Smoking weed I take less of a hard line on. I don’t think there is anything wrong with casually getting high, by yourself or with friends. Personally, I was at a point that I couldn’t make it through most days without a hit, and I judged that to be too much. There are all sorts of coping devices, whether it’s a midnight joint, a beer at the end of the week, or a TV show before bed. The important part is to watch your relationship to anything that could turn unhealthy, or obsessive.  

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