It was a wonderful day, the start of many wonderful to come. I’d love to tell you that my transition from smoker to non-smoker was as painless and smooth as my budding romance with Drew but this was not the case. My relationship with Drew had a dream like quality, almost surreal. When I was with him, I felt as if I were floating through life. This was probably a combination of the chemical of love being released in my brain and the fact that when I was with Drew I was always pushing the envelope as to how much I could smoke. I wasn’t consciously trying to keep up with his smoking, it just often felt right and oh so romantic to either be sharing a cigarette or smoking at the same time. In contrast, when I was alone, I tended to only smoke occasionally which ultimately lead to a very volatile relationship with cigarettes.

Part of me, still reasoned that smoking is bad and I should stop. This part of me, made appearances when I was away from the cloudy haze of love I was often in when with Drew. A second part of me, reasoned that as long as my smoking was kept under control and I didn’t smoke too much then I would be okay. The third part of me, wanted to just smoke whenever I pleased and if that turned out to be all the time so be it. Consequently, I developed a weird pattern of smoking very little or not at all on days when I was away from Drew and sometimes up to 6 or 7 on full days spent with Drew.

But as time went on, I spent more and more time at Drew’s house. Towards the end of the first month, I was almost spending every day with Drew, smoking about 6 or 7 cigarettes. In my mind, I still did not consider myself a regular smoker. I mean, when I wasn’t with Drew I often didn’t smoke so there was no way I was addicted already. Or so I thought. One day as we were lying on his bed, cuddling with each other, each having a cigarette, I decided to ask Drew about this.

“Do you think I am addicted?” I pondered.

“I think a better question to ask yourself would be: Would it matter if you were?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, do you like- no love smoking so much that it doesn’t really matter to you whether you are addicted or not?”

“Part of me must still care if I am addicted or not, because otherwise I wouldn’t still be restricting my smoking when I am not with you.”

“Tell me when was the last time we have spent more than 48 hours apart,” Drew asked, his eyes gleaming knowingly. It was clear what he was really asking was when was the last time I had gone more than 48 or 24 hours without smoking.

“I think it might have been two weeks ago.”

“Have you told your friend Lindsay you smoke yet?”

“No… but…” I trailed off. I had been putting it off. Admitting to someone other to Drew made the fact that I was a smoker that much more real. I had managed to not smoke around her, but I knew that couldn’t last forever.

“No buts. It is clear you are still in denial about the fact that you are a smoker. The longer you keep this from her, the harder it will be to tell her. Do you want to wait until you are up to smoking half a pack or a pack a day?”

“No…” Drew was right. I couldn’t keep the charade up. But telling other people meant that I had to fully accept the fact that I was a smoker, something only part of me had. I looked down at the cigarette burning between my fingers. The truth was, I loved the way it looked there. I looked down at it with a fondness normally only reserved for Drew. Looking at the cigarette brought on a desire to take a drag, a desire I was more than happy to indulge.

“Just by looking at you, I can tell you love it. Forget societal norms. Forget that you are not supposed to love something that will eventually kill you. The fact is: you do. Denying the fact will not make it go away.”

“I know you are right but…”

“You are still scared about what people will think. Until you forget that, you will never be entirely happy as a smoker.”

“I know…” I admitted sheepishly.

“I’ll tell you what- I’m going to give you a little space to digest all this. I’m going to my parent’s place Friday night and will not be back until Sunday night. Your goal is to tell Lindsay that you smoke by the end of the weekend. If you can’t tell her, you probably should consider quitting because closet smoking is no way to live and I guarantee it will be harder to tell your parents.”

“Okay, we have a deal.”

“I’m only being hard on you for your own good.”

“I know.” I took one last pull on my cigarette and exhaled slowly. I would really miss doing that if it turned out I was too chicken shit to tell my best friend.

Chapter 11