Days Without a Cigarette: 0.625
Days Without Nicotine: 0
Dollars Saved: -$37.19
A couple of years ago, I flew to Sydney from New York City. We had a layover in Tokyo, but because the first leg of the journey was delayed, that layover ended up being about 17 seconds. There was barely time to make it to the next gate, and certainly no time to drop off at the smoker’s lounge. When I add up the time at JFK waiting for the outbound flight and the time in the air, it was about 26 hours. And that’s the longest I’ve gone without a cigarette in my adult life.
Right now, I’m a bit over 15 hours in, which probably qualifies as the second longest hiatus; though I’m hesitant to count it. After all, seven of those thirteen hours were spent asleep, and I’ve gone eight conscious hours without a cigarette plenty of times. Hell, I did nine hours a couple of days ago when my flight got delayed from Chicago. So in the grand scheme of things, I haven’t really accomplished anything.
That being said, I’m gonna pat myself on the back regardless. Because this is by far the longest I’ve gone without a cigarette without laws and air marshals in place to stop me. It’s the only time I’ve done this voluntarily.
I started smoking when I was a kid. My friend David and I would take turns swiping cigarettes from our dads to smoke behind the garage (yes, literally behind the garage). I couldn’t have been older than twelve when that became a regular thing.
By the time I was fifteen, I probably had a pack of cigarettes with me more often than I didn’t. I didn’t have a job, but through a combination of clever investments and my mom forgetting to ask for the change when I ran into the store to get milk for her, I could usually scrounge up the $1.75 that a pack of Camels cost back then. And when I couldn’t manage that, I could at least find the ninety cents I’d need for a pack of Jacks or Bucks or some other ‘half tobacco, half pencil shavings’ brand.
Since the age of sixteen, I’ve never really been without them. I’ve never tried to quit, I’ve never taken a break from them, and while I’ve had a couple of medical circumstances that came with a strict warning from the doctor not to smoke for 24 or 48 hours, I never bothered to heed that advice. I’ve gone without cigarettes when I’ve been in places that won’t let you have them; but I’ve never gone without them when I had the choice. Hell, for the last 27 years at least, I’ve never gone two hours without a cigarette if I had the choice to smoke one.
So yeah; it doesn’t seem like much when I total up the hours. I haven’t even tied with my longest flight yet. But I’ve been awake since nine, it’s four now. That means that in a very real sense, I’ve quadrupled my previous record. And that’s what I’ll have to celebrate… just as soon as I figure out what non-smokers do to celebrate.