After 23 years of being a non-smoker, I still get the random urge to light up. I know what to do when the devil sneaks up on me; I do something for 7 minutes – exercise, FaceBook, shower – anything but stick a fag in my mouth and puff away.
Why did I quit? I was supposed to go to lunch with a friend and I told her that I’d drive, because I couldn’t go the 10-minute distance without a smoke. She didn’t allow smoking in her car. Pathetic.
It was hell quitting. I was supposed to visit another friend in Northern California. We had planned the visit months ahead of time. But when I walked out of the shower on that fateful day a non-smoker, I just couldn’t visit my dear 3-packs-a-day smoker friend. Just couldn’t do it.
So, I planned on going to a spa in Northern California for three days instead. With my car packed for a month, I headed north. Mind you, I’m jonesin’ for a smoke! I’m all but shaking. My favorite place to smoke was in the car, while driving. I made it an hour away from home, with only 7 more hours left to reach the spa. Should I go? Should I go back home? What should I do? My mind was a mess. I wanted a smoke so bad. When I reached the turnoff to zip up the freeway north, I froze. I said, Hell with it, I’m going home! And I turned off the freeway and headed back south!
Now here’s when my story gets unbelievable. When I reached the freeway going east to my dot on the map, I froze again. I’ll go to the spa in San Deigo! And I steered my little VW Rabbit south.
Up and down the freeways I went. I was a lunatic but I finally stayed the course to San Diego.
Now this spa is world-known, high class and expensive. I didn’t care, I was worth it. When I pulled into the reception area in my dusty Rabbit, I pulled behind a Rolls Royce, a Jaguar, and a Benz. Intimidating.
A friend told me to say hi to anyone and everyone, introduce myself as just having quit smoking. I did just that at the reception desk, ‘Hi, I’m Lucy and I just quit smoking.’ The girl behind the desk laughed and said, ‘I wish I could quit.’ She disappeared behind a door. A minute later she came back trailed by a man in a spiffy tailored suit; the manager. ‘Congratulations, I quit 3 months ago,” he said shaking my hand vigorously. And then he gave me a deluxe room for a standard room rate. Not bad. I’d spa in style!
Once in the actual spa; rooms of white chic tile, I was shuffled into a steam room with several other ladies. All wrapped in giant white towels, like myself, with white turbans on their heads, not like myself. I did my, ‘Hi, I’m Lucy and I just quit smoking’ intro, but I don’t think they cared. They weren’t there with smoking problems; it looked like they all just had plastic surgery. Oh, well. I didn’t need them.
For three days I spa’d; had massages, milk baths, steam room. I only wore street clothes when I dined. Dined on fancy veggies, albeit steamed veggies, and little bites of fresh fish.
I still had the urge to smoke, but with a towel on that had no pockets, it wasn’t a choice. Besides, their gift shop didn’t tell cigarettes. Of course I checked!
When the 3 days were over, I didn’t faint over the bill. I choked a little, but I didn’t regret it at all. The Rabbit packed, I headed north. But again I was indecisive on whether I was ready to go home to my old habits. What to do?
I decided to head north to visit my daughter and stop along the way and tell everyone everywhere that I had just quit smoking! That was my plan.
My first stop was Hearst Castle in San Simeon, where the people on the tourist bus learned of my plight! People were sympathetic as they; wished they could quit, had already quit, or never smoked. I could have cared less about the grandeur of Hearst Castle, I just wanted a pat on the back. An ‘Atta girl!’ acknowledgment.
Next stop, Carmel, to the darling guesthouse that I spent my 2nd honeymoon in with my 2nd husband. It was offseason and the woman was so excited to see a non-smoking returnee to her place that she gave me a fab room at a giant discount!
After Carmel, I stayed overnight in Santa Barbara, walking the length of State Street; the main street that leads to the ocean. Visiting each shop on the way down to the water, I sowed my story to anyone who’d listen. People were great and talking and walking kept me from smoking.
By the time I drove up to my daughter’s house I was pretty much over the hump. Instead of getting urges every few minutes, they happened here and there. By that time, I’d figured out the seven-minute-diversion-thing during an urge and so I was confident that I could actually return home a non-smoker.
Here’s the rub--I’ve quit smoking 5 times. I don’t kid myself; I’m addicted to nicotine big time and it’s sure death for me to smoke one cancer stick and think I can get away with it!
So, 23 years and counting. Atta girl!
When my friend comes over, I make her smoke outside.
I should make her clean the ashtray, too!
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