It is important for the Maker to understand that he has not yet kicked the habit just because he has not had a smoke for almost four weeks now. Still he can placate himself with the thought the urge is not as strong and as overwhelming as before. He must watch out for those moments when the urge kicks in like pangs of longing and then he misses tobacco as he would miss a dearly beloved lover.
The first week that he quit should not count. He smoked his last full stick of cigarette in Margie’s house in Oxnard City, California. Margie is his sister. She works as a nurse practitioner in an eating disorder hospital here. Unlike a regular nurse, a nurse practitioner is licensed to diagnose and dispense medicine much like a doctor for as long as they work with a regular doctor. He decided to quit smoking after Margie once again called him a “walking time bomb” right after getting his vital signs.
But of course, it was more than that. The Maker had wanted to quit over the past many months but the pressures of work just simply made it impossible. But since his term as chairman of the Humanities Division UPV Cebu College was ending and since he would be marking this end by travelling to the United States for a three-week break, he decided to make the best of it by using the three weeks as a good opportunity to quit. So he flew to the US with a “pasalubong” for himself: seven packs of Marlboro Gold, enough cigarettes to last him a week.
And this last week as a smoker would indeed be a memorable one.
Oxnard is by the sea. It can get cold late afternoons in Margie’s small patio outside the front door of her house. It was here that the Maker smoked at odd times but mostly at dusk when Margie was away and he could stand here all alone thinking to himself, missing home, drinking a hot cup of coffee and bearing the cold inside his thick jacket. The feeling was actually fun. And most especially so the feeling of breathing into one’s bare lungs a lethal mixture of cold dry air laced with carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, tar, nicotine, etc. This and coffee, what can feel better?
But he had resolved to quit and so the first Saturday he was here he got to his last two sticks of cigarette. He decided to smoke one stick while he tore apart the other one, throwing it with much resolve into a broken flower vase on the patio which served as his ash tray. For the next days he would be raiding this ash tray for cigarettes butts which he would light up. But eventually, even this would run out. The good thing about Margie’s house is that it is at least a mile away from anywhere a person might buy cigarettes. This factor would be important by way of helping the Maker quit the habit successfully, this and the fact of another two weeks with Margie.
He had quit smoking at least twice before. He had quit for upwards to five years each time. Which is a good record. In the first instance, the Maker went back to smoking after getting caught with his friends Sean Lee and Chris Juntilla in a typhoon. They were caught inside a small hut on a fishpond in Dumanjug. It rained for days and they were isolated with little food but sufficient rum and intoxicants. The intoxicants included packs of cigarettes. He was the only one who did not smoke. His fate was sealed.
In the second instance, the tension of life just simply caught up with him and until now he was unable to retrieve or rescue himself. The Maker believes he will succeed this time around. The terminology he uses gives him cue. He rescues himself by quitting. It’s a new mantra, a small prayer to his God.
From globalnation.inquirer.net, June 24th, 2010, By Raymund Fernandez