Usually, I love the skin I am in. However, sometimes my skin crawls, my heart pounds, and my mind may wander. I think this is true for a lot of people. I think the coping mechanisms just have always been different depending on whom you observe. The way we decide to deal with the pressure is how we define our uniqueness. How did I define my uniqueness? I smoked. I didn’t smoke weed. I smoked cigarettes. I inhale my problems, and exhale the stress. My skin starts to go still, my heart slows, and my mind fixates.

During my smoking breaks, I’d have the chance to think. I’d have the chance to contemplate things that I might not think about if I didn’t give myself time to be secluded from the non-smoking world. I’d think about stuff like who I am and mortality. I’d think about the good stuff. I’d think about the heavy stuff. I’d think about the stuff that the non-smokers don’t think about because they’re too busy trying to impress each other and breathe in fresh-air to ever genuinely stop and think.

After a while, I stopped to think and realized what cigarettes do to a person. They kill a person. They harm a person. Smoking cigarettes is a daring thing for someone so utterly scared of death like me to do because it speeds up the process, according to studies. I decided to quit. Then, I’d smoke. I decided to quit again. Then, I’d break up with a boy. Then, I’d smoke. I decided to quit once more. Then, my job got stressful. Then, I would smoke. Now, I decided to quit for no other reason, but because I realized that cigarettes have been my first long term relationship and the relationship had expired. So far in life, cigarettes have been the only thing I’ve been loyal to. Cigarettes have been the only thing I constantly wrapped my lips around and kept in my back pocket, and that realization for me cleared up things.

I realize, now, that instead of quitting cigarettes, I needed to break up with cigarettes. I needed to acknowledge the beautiful times we’ve shared, but know that cigarettes aren’t good for me and it’s time to let go. I needed to thank cigarettes. I needed to thank cigarettes for creating a man that’s not afraid of being alone. A man that’s not afraid to go outside in the cold to get what he wants. Cigarettes turned me into a man that watches the rain drop, and matches the pattern of his breathing with the wind. Cigarettes turned me into an individual unafraid of himself because when you face the loneliness of a smoking section, you realize you’ll never really feel ostracized as long as you can smoke a cigarette.

Granted, I’m not trying to romanticize smoking cigarettes. I’ve coughed extremely hard and it has hurt. I don’t know if those coughs have hurt as bad as that man pouring sour vitriol down my throat and that elixir of hate speeding up my metabolism to be able to digest every piece of poison he was feeding me, but the coughs hurt. Not only did they hurt, but I was the reason because I was puff-puff-puffing. I’m not just deciding to quit smoking cigarettes; I’ve decided to stop being the reason for my own pain or my imminent demise. I may not be able to control others, but I can control my fingers, and that lighter, and that paper wrapped with sweet nicotine.

Today, I choose life over a smoking solitude. I chose to see if I can create peace and sanctuary without nicotine. I need to see if I can step on the patio and enjoy the sun without a box of cancer sticks and a lighter. I must discover if I am a man that can take the pressure of life without a vice, or a break. Today, I must feel what independence is because I’ve been relying on cigarettes for entirely too long. I need to fall and feel it, not smoke it. It makes me nervous and sick to think that I won’t be with them anymore, but I have to do this for me and my lungs, and my sanity, and my phobia of death, and my skin. I must do it for this skin that I need to remain tough, but get smooth.

Perhaps, in the far future, I’ll be drunk. I’ll meet a cigarette that was offered to me, and I’ll smoke it. The moonlight will tiptoe across my clear skin. It won’t be to rekindle the love affair we once had, but it will be to revisit who I used to be. I’m anxious for that moment. The moment where something I did to survive everyday life becomes something I just do when I’m drunk. For now, I must blow kisses to blowing smoke, until those little paper men are out of my system.

smoke