On Smoking

Essay 17

I quit smoking in February 2020, the same day that I launched the online community for Interintellect. I was stuck home sick with COVID, so worn-out and for so long that I thought this is perfect, stopping after 20 years will be the least of my headaches for a few weeks; I was right. I’d been reproaching myself for a while by then, felt too old to sneak out to balconies, too tired to be sorry—in Dolores Park was told not to worry, people “will just think it’s pot”—too embarrassed of chewing-gums, too certain there are better ways to screw up.

The Buddhists think you don’t quit addictions, you become a new person who isn’t an addict. I think back to the old me and there’s a crack in reality, a post-earthquake stock photo, tectonic plates on the two sides of a fault line not level. My Super Mario jumped across, up, up—my pride in this new me who defied me, the challenger the challenge I chose to face.

It’s on late nights when it’s raining and I’m walking up and down my new place that I miss her. I don’t think I think the same thoughts as she did, I don’t sit, I don’t gesture, I don’t hold myself like she did, hooked here on only coffee and wine like an amateur. Who is this night-mover without her smoke-cloak…? Is this even sexy, are we serious? I step out on the open balcony, let the rising sun find me here, but I feel too clean.