Forty Years, Forty Posts #15

I’m falling a bit behind on these posts, at least if I don’t want to have to do a flurry in the last week before my birthday, and I’m running a bit shy on memories. Fortunately Jonny Skov(ron) reminded me of one of my great accomplishments: quitting smoking.

I took up smoking when I was in high school, mostly because I had my first job at a fast food place and everyone took short smoking breaks. If you were a smoker, that was. Otherwise, no breaks. Didn’t take long to sort out the logic. Then I was mildly hooked. I never needed more than a few smokes to get me through a day, but I did need them.

I smoked a lot more in college. Believe it or not, when I started college they still had smoking areas on college campuses. We could smoke in the hallways between classes, and even in some of the classrooms. Things were changing, though, and in the space of my few years at college our smoking areas one by one until there was no smoking indoors anywhere, and they were talking about banning smoking near the buildings or even on the grounds. Fortunately, there were enough smokers to form a warm and sheltered mass when it was cold, rather like buffalo out on the prairie.

I quit once in college, for an entire year, but took it up again for some reason. I also quit for about six months after college, but again… despite having gone through all the withdrawal pains and psychological adjustments, smoked up again on a lark. I finally quit for good in grad school. It was a busy, stressful time for me, so it made no sense to quit smoking then, but then, smokers never really find the right time to quit.

As a former smoker, I know that few smokers are really happy with their habit. We were always “trying” to quit or “going” to quit. Actually, eventually most of us did quit. Some of used patches or gum (I used the patch), others just stopped smoking. The trick was to not smoke. Easier said than done, I guess, but really not that hard to do when I look back on it.

When: 1985-1994
Where: Beginning in Alexandria, VA; Ending in Orono, ME

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