There were a few more puffs that night, but for some reason I never smoked with that friend again. I had numerous fantasies about me being her cigarette supplier when I turned 18 because I was older than her and she sometimes had trouble getting cigarettes. It never happened.  Also, she seemed to become protective of me. Like she didn’t want to be the one responsible for getting me started on smoking. I wasn’t one to push things either.

I couldn’t stop thinking about smoking. It became a bit of an obsession. So much so that I decided I would buy cigarettes on my 18th birthday. Only once it came time for me to go purchase them, I chickened out. It would take me another two months before I had the courage to go buy my own pack. I bought a pack of DuMauriers Lights (regular length). I wanted a pack of DuMaurier regulars because I knew I like the way they tasted, but I was too chicken to tell the sales clerk he had made a mistake. Besides, it didn’t really matter at this point. To be perfectly honest, I’m surprised that I got the words out. Just buying the cigarettes was a rush. Probably because I knew that it was the first step to doing something I shouldn’t be doing.

I took the cigarettes home, got my lighter that my friend had given me awhile back for candles and walked to the ravine by my house. I didn’t really want anyone to see and besides- the view from the top of the ravine is beautiful. I couldn’t really think of a better place to smoke my first full cigarette.

I sat down cross-legged on the ground, and unwrapped the cellophane from the cigarettes. I took a deep breath and took one of the cigarettes out and placed it between my lips. It always amazed me how light cigarettes are and this moment was no different. It took me a few tries to get it lit because of the wind but I managed. It was from here on that I started to make mistakes. First, I was taking in giant drags. I was light headed from the first one, which at first was pleasant. The problem is I kept taking large drags. Also, I smoked this first cigarette way too fast as if it was going to be the last one I ever had. The combination of my large drags with the speed at which I was smoking made me dizzy. I didn’t stop. I was determined to smoke my first cigarette to the filter and so I did.

At this point I was feeling pretty ill. I stumbled home, starting to think that my choice of ravine edge smoking spot might not have been the best place. I immediately lay on the couch. I wasn’t aware at the time, but I had just given myself nicotine poisoning. I didn’t lie there for long before I had to run upstairs and puke. Puking provided immediate relief. After I puked, had a shower, threw my clothing into the wash (to hide all evidence) and had a snack to settle my stomach. I almost threw the cigarettes into the trash after just one. I probably should have. But something inside me decided I should keep them. Probably the part of the brain that enjoyed what the nicotine was doing to it. Stupid brain. Damn dopamine and its pleasurable effects. Because I kept the cigarettes it almost guaranteed I would do it again at some point. And I did. On more than one occasion.