It was an awkward exchange. I walked into the Mobil gas station store and asked for a lighter and a pack of American Spirits.
"Ok," the guy said, and he didn't move.
We stared at each other for about ten seconds and then I asked, "What?"
"Oh," I said, pretending to know what that meant. I peered over the counter and I saw the yellow pack first so I said "Yellow." I got a matching yellow lighter, showed him my ID, and left the store.
My friend Cleveland and I walked back to campus.
Cleveland: "Well, are you going to smoke one?"
I tried. I put the cigarette in my mouth and tried to light it.
Cleveland: "You need to suck in. God, you're an idiot, do you want me to do it? ...Okay fine."
I finally lit it. I held it between my fingers and sucked.
Cleveland: "You're holding it too far on the tips of your fingers. The second knuckle. You want it here, on the second knuckle. Oh my god, you are the worst."
I sucked a couple more times. Cleveland gave me a look.
Cleveland: "You know... I don't even think you are actually inhaling anything. I think you're just holding it in your mouth. You see, the point of a cigarette is to get the smoke in your lungs."
Me: "But I have asthma."
Cleveland: "You are an idiot."
I eventually got it right. I inhaled and it hurt but I kept on doing it anyway.
Cleveland: "Do you feel cool yet?"
Me: "The coolest."
My friend Chicago and I smoked a cigarette from that pack at midnight every night for the last week of school. We'd take a break from doing homework and sit outside and smoke.
Acquaintance: "Whoa, Connor, you smoke?"
Chicago answered for me: "Nah, just for conference week. It'll be a tradition."
Acquaintance: "Oh. Haha, I was about to say, shit man, I thought Sarah Lawrence had finally gotten to you."
After a week finished the pack and vowed that we would not touch a cigarette again until conference time next year.
But now I get cigarette cravings. I don't think it's chemical, there are just moments when I think "God, a cigarette would be great right now. That's exactly what I need." They are very strong feelings, noticeably so. So much that I text Chicago (who is now currently back in Chicago) asking "Are you getting these cigarette cravings?"
"No, I'm fine! Haven't touched one since we finished the pack!"
I told a friend from my psych class and she said that once she smoked a whole pack of cigarettes, one after the other in front of her boyfriend, just to prove to him that the addiction was psychological.
"I was fine. Didn't get addicted. But since you smoked it when you were in a stressful time, you're always gonna have that association," she said.
I enjoy smoking cigarettes. Ideally I'd like to smoke casually, maybe once a month if the situation arises. But I can't buy cigarettes because I can't afford them, and I shouldn't buy cigarettes because I promised I wouldn't.
But it doesn't stop me from getting cravings.