I've been struck lately by the urge to light up. Cigarettes, not pot (the latter renders me terribly paranoid, if memory serves). And the other day, whilst out and a wee bit tipsy (if traipsing down the sidewalk in my night-out finery whilst giggling, barefoot, heels in hand, is any indication of my state of sobriety), I succumbed to said urge. Okay. Yes. Let's get the disclaimer out of the way, shall we? Smoking is bad for you, kids. Bad. Bad bad. It's filthy, stinky, like kissing an ashtray, yadda yadda. Yes, all of these things are true. It's bad, stinky, just plain gross, etc. not to mention that great, grand and very real evil of BIG TOBACCO, and I sure hope my kids don't fall into it, though between you, me and the lamppost, I'm not stupid enough to believe that they won't.
So why then, after all these years of not smoking, do I still fall prey to the craving to smoke? What does smoking mean to me?
Well - for starters - I was never one of those people who thought: "I have to quit this filthy, disgusting habit." Nope. I fell more into the: "this fabulous activity that I really love is going to kill me, and that kinda sucks" camp.
And smoking is all self-distructive-y, which tends to work well for me when depressed or unsettled or whatever you want to call it. I don't know what is about sitting all pensive-like with a glass of wine and taking big deep drags of something that could very well kill your ass, but damn if it isn't a satisfying sort of F#ck You to the universe. If you want to know the truth, I'm doing it right now. Yup. True story. It's not going to be an ongoing thing. In fact, the rest of the pack has been deposited in the trash, likely where it should reside. Nevertheless - I do miss smoking.
I miss the ritual of smoking. The anticipation of pleasure. The endless supply of anticipation of pleasure. Because really, what is there not to like about that?! I like the associations of smoking - which harken back to times when I had nights of drunken debauchery and mornings of slow, lazy coffee drinking and paper reading in endless supply. I miss the gestures and physicality of it. I have often been told that I was an intense smoker (but I've also been told that there isn't much I don't do intensely - which is something I've worked pteetty hard on curtailing, because most folks find it shit-scary....anyways - prone to deep inhalation, wild gesticulation, the cigarette becoming a natural (and yet not) extension of my excitedly talking hands. It was a part performativity, a part smoke-screen (if you'll pardon the pun). It allowed me to stop and take stock in a heady conversation or debate, it allowed me to express myself in a physical way that doesn't feel as possible without the smoking.
But it was more than that, too. There's something, I don't know, comforting in a historical sense too for me about smoking. I smoked at a time in my life when things were all Summertime and the Livin was Easy. Smoking was about fun, being social, and sex. Yup. Sex. I know everyone wants to get away from that whole smoking is sexy business. And maybe it isn't . But my memories of smoking at ye olde dingy dyke bar, filled with smoky haze were full-on sexy. Most of us queers did smoke back then, at least in my cohort. And the bar was filled with super butchy girls and drag kings (who sported suppose whether they smoked or not), who had a lighter out for you almost before that cigarette was in hand. And that oh-so-coquette-ish moment of staring up to say thank-you over the red tipped end - it was always, always a charged moment. Smoking may be gross and unsexy, but the dance that goes along with it? A seriously fun dance, friends.
Those were the days ;)
Emphasis on were. I"m all grown up now. The pack, as I mentioned, is sitting in the trash. The memory lane smoke I started while typing is long since gone, and I'm all done with tha (at least until my next night of drinking - which if my current life is any indication will be awhile ;). I can't let myself slip into the comfort of smoking, (which, have I mentioned that I still really, really love?), because it's stinky, people feel smoking and smokers are disgusting, and most importantly I have these two amazing little people who ensure that my bouts of self-destructiveness are just that, bouts (no matter how much fantasy and nostalgia they instill).