TAMPA, Fla. — Back in my cigarette smoking days, I always took care to earn good smoking karma. All you had to do was ask. And sometimes, I even gave up the last one in my pack, which for smokers is about as precious a gift as organ donation is to non-smokers.
Of course, when you quit smoking, that karma is worthless. And at worst, it can be a hindrance to remaining a quitter, as it was tonight when I was at dinner with an old friend.
We hadn’t crossed paths since last fall. I was smoking like a chimney then, and midway through a bar-hopping excursion with a group of other pals, he asked for a smoke. I obliged. This went on until they dragged the last of the drunks out of the bars.
Anyway, he let me know early during dinner that he was prepared to pay me back in smokes. For the first time since quitting (again), I faced serious temptation.
But I didn’t give in. For that, I have only my motivation to thank.
I met her for the first time exactly a year ago today. She came into my life at a great time of change and has stuck with me ever since. When we met, I was in the midst of quit attempt version 3.0. And when I started again we were already dating.
She made it clear she wasn’t happy about my relapse but never once nagged me about it. I promised I’d quit again and I’d be done for good. She’s been patient with me about everything else — such as being away for work, sometimes days at a time — but she was especially understanding as I prepared to quit once more.
So, as my friend offered karmic payback, all I could think about was Jo.
I thought about how amazing (mostly) this last year has been, and if just one year with her was awesome, imagine two? Or three? Or even 30? I thought about something I read once, that each cigarette cuts about 11 minutes off your life. I thought about how many days I could have with her that I’ve smoked away.
Then I thought about the foolish decisions I’ve made in my life, and how none of them would be as stupid as giving up even one more minute with her.
— 30 —