Feature photo by jmpznz

Growing up, there were no smokers in my family: Neither of my parents smoked (or even drank, for that matter). One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I decided that I was going to become a smoker — because, well, why the hell not? It was rebellion for the sake of rebellion, and I thought it made me look like a bad ass. Fast-forward nine years. I have just moved back to the country after a long stint taking care of family business in Mexico, where the habit had turned into an addiction due to relative solitude and ridiculous affordability of my drug of choice.

Once back in Chicago, I find a job as a commodities broker-in-training and begin my new life, just as I had schemed during all of my free time in Jalisco. But one day in late April, while sitting in the office watching the price of corn rise and my co-workers celebrate, I suddenly and randomly decided to quit smoking. I would do it cold turkey, I resolved, because if I was going to do anything, I figured I may as well take the hard way, just to have something to talk about later on.

Literally a week after I quit I met a woman — she was absolutely perfect, and soon after we started dating, I find out everything about her, including the fact that she’s militantly anti-smoking. So how is that for coincidences? Me, a former smoker, dating an anti-puffer. Sooner still things began to really fall into place, the groundwork for my new life slowly being set. But as they say, man makes plan, God laughs.

While we dated, here and there things would happen, and I would lean on my old friend The Marlboro Man. It seemed that when my stress levels rose, I would fall back on the red box crutch. I would have small relapses, and when confronted by my militant friend, I would deny it and blame someone else. This always seemed to be the name of the game, denial, and it went on for a year, the cycle of denial to not only myself but to others.

Finally, one day in June, the shit hit the fan and I fell hard off the wagon. I began to notice my consumption growing exponentially. It began taking a toll on me: I woke up and smoked, I ate and I smoked, and so on. The cravings were now a real part of my life, no longer a social thing or a stress reliever. Rather than deal with the discomfort, I would just smoke. Flash-forward to the end of this summer, when she finally got sick of my shit and left me. By then, my consumption was about a pack a day.

So, here we are now. Some time has passed and I have had time to reflect on my little addiction and its effect on those around me. I am making the conscious decision for my own health to deal with the discomfort caused by my chemical dependency and quit smoking cold turkey, once more. I figure that the pain should be enough to ward off any future relapses.

There really is nothing more fashionable than holding on to your health — even if you have to go through hell first.

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