I know, I know, smoking is bad for you. It yellows teeth, it makes your breath and hair stink, it causes cancer and other diseases, and all other manner of problems.
It also looks cool as hell. That’s not an endorsement of smoking, but just an acknowledgement that some of the coolest people (see above) look even cooler with a cigarette.
All that said, I’ve never actually been a cigarette smoker in any real sense. I’ve had a few cigarettes here and there as an adult, but almost always when I was with a serious smoker, and when I’d been out drinking. I once posted a picture of myself smoking a cigarette on social media (something which all writers are still required to do), and within hours every member of my family had contacted me to warn me about the dangers of smoking.
My drug of choice was marijuana for many years. I started smoking weed when I was 20 years old, and the first couple of times I fell asleep. I thought it was overrated. But I stuck with it, and once I was able to stay awake, I started to understand why so many people enjoyed it. It’s a difficult experience to put into words, but for me it heightened my enjoyment of various activities. Food tasted better, jokes were funnier, and physical touch felt better. That first year, I spent the summer eating candy, watching Battlestar Galactica and smoking weed.
Over the years, the amount of weed I needed to get the same sensation gradually went up, as did the cost. By the time I reached 2021, I was smoking almost $100 worth of weed a week. Part of that was my increased tolerance, but I was also feeling isolated and depressed due to the Covid pandemic and my less-than-ideal work situation. I was smoking nonstop, which was unusual for me. In my previous job I didn’t smoke at all, because I was working with children and I genuinely enjoyed being around them. But I hated my current job so much that I didn’t even want to think about it. So I would just get blasted.
That ended in August of last year. I had a bunch of huge stressors in my life, including being fired from the job I hated and needing to move. For the first time, I was starting to have anxiety and panic attacks when I smoked. I thought to myself that I was spending too much money to feel bad when I was smoking, so I quit smoking. The biggest impact has been the amount of money I’ve saved, and learning to just have fun without being high. I still smoke weed every now and then, but again it’s only when I’m around people who already have it.
Now I’ve been vaping occasionally. It’s not as cool looking as traditional smoking, and doesn’t give the same high as weed. But there’s a little buzz there, and the fact that it’s clean and doesn’t smell bad makes it more attractive. It’s not a habit that I want to develop; I just do it here and there when I feel like it. And I know that it’s not really that much safer than anything else that you inhale into your lungs.
Yet the fact is that on some level, I enjoy smoking. I like blowing out a cloud of smoke and imagining the negative energy and emotions built up inside of me dissipating into the air. The only problem is that it’s bad for me- but everything that feels good is bad for me it seems. I feel like it’s one of the cruel jokes of life, that fun is ultimately fatal. And now I don’t even get to look cool as I destroy my body! Oh well, maybe kids in fifty years will look at me smoking an early 21st century vape as some avant garde signifier of chic.