I’m trying to switch to vaping after a decade of cigarette addiction. While I’m happy that thousands of years of technological progress has led us to engineering a smoking substitute, it’s the relationship with cigarettes that needs to be addressed. I need a separation. My atomizer is a better partner, since it smells better than cigarettes, is cheaper in the long term, and ostensibly isn’t going to kill me in my sleep. Despite the existence of this better alternative, cigarettes and I have a history, like a relationship with an undeserving partner. I have invested far too much, but I’m afraid to let go.
Today I had my morning coffee outside, which I usually take beside a tree glazed in morning dew beneath a purple sky as dawn breaks. That’s how I gather the courage to begin my day. Vaping from the atomizer is different as expected, as the smoke billows in my throat like a down feather blanket, thick yet airy. My chest isn’t used to it, so I cough up as the mojito-flavored mist seeps into nooks and crevices it shouldn’t be. It’s different from cigarettes. It’s uncomfortable. It’s different.
My heart is screaming. It’s not the same cigarette smoke that I took whenever I would awkwardly cling to the walls and corners of the house parties of my youth. It’s not the same excuse I had to interact with the strangers in the middle of the night who would become friends… and lovers. It’s not the panacea that dulls the edge from stressful encounters, nor is it the muse that pierces through a mental block. This is not the habit I’ve grown so close to, and the finality of leaving smoking behind me is frightening, despite the overwhelming evidence that it’s the right decision. Yet the nicotine fit is being satisfied as a familiar warm glow envelops my shoulders.
I look for things to like about the atomizer. It’s well constructed with a beautiful glass tank, and beneath it is an air pressure seal ring that allows me to control the drag. It’s far more customizable than a cigarette could ever be, and the available flavors offer far more depth. This relationship is objectively more beneficial and more interesting than the last one, where I would try to steal a puff of tobacco even if I was painfully ill with the flu, and had to push myself out into a freezing winter night. Cigarettes make for an inconsiderate companion.
My motivation is simple. I always thought self-improvement was no more than a narcissistic vagary, and real personal growth came from introspection and internalization. On the contrary, it’s difficult to internalize self-actualization when you’re howling in pain, armchair-ridden because of a hernia which was inevitable due to a sedentary lifestyle of navel gazing. I am cognizant enough to not want to wait for the logical conclusion, as painful as it is to admit that. It was time to take a daily multivitamin, with kale shake breakfasts. It was time to live like a rabbit and eat my greens, topped only by a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette and chopped olives. It was time to watch people on YouTube remind me how to do a proper push up. If my own personal philosophy is to accept that life is sometimes an existential struggle, then enduring a bit of physical struggle is par for the course. At least the pineapple smoke kind of makes my car smell good.