My dad used to say that some things have a long runway. Yep. About three days after sharing here my decision to quit smoking cloves, I slipped off that long runway to go smoke, squatting on the edge of the tarmac as I watched other planes take off and land.
I left Vermont early Sunday morning, intentionally not having bought a new pack (or three) for a week of work-related travel. Sure enough, after polishing off my last few smokes Sunday night, I knew that this would be it. I will return home Sunday having made it through my first whole week, having run every day, survived those initial cravings, overcome the inevitable wavering and teetering, the crankiness, the copious amounts of water, coffee, chocolate-chip cookies, and peppermint gum, the strange blend of grief and relief that comes with letting go of a habit that ultimately causes more stress than it relieves but would gladly have me believe otherwise.
My last attempt was hopeful, genuine, a practice run. But I feel like I’ve stepped into a familiar place–in a good way–a place I remember inhabiting before, during the many long smokeless stretches of my adult life. A place where I rise to run early in the morning and feel fast and strong and free, like I could run all day, and even find myself thinking about half-marathons again. A place where I recover my ability to sit still, and quickly remember that I can write and connect with myself without smoking. A place where I am forced to turn my attention inward to some quiet, deep place where the anchor drops and keeps me from drifting off every which way. A place where I am not living two lives. A place where I have nothing to hide. Where I choose what to share. Where I yes and I say no and I take deep, sometimes desperate breaths, and exhale them slowly as if my life depended on each one–which it in fact does. A place where I remember, once again: this is power and humility nestled together, like a dog and a cat who are cozy, interspecies co-sleepers.
Yesterday, my colleague and I ran about five miles on the Vernon Trail along the Potomac River. I told him what I’m up to, then asked him the date, happy to realize that 12/12/12 will be my one-year anniversary of once again living as a non-smoker. Bear with me this time–I may well have to write my way through it.