I  had  my last cigarette.

I never thought I would be able to quit. I had semi-started in college. I’d grub a smoke at a party or at a tailgate. When I started my first job, half the staffers smoked and you didn’t even have to leave the building. It was great – I’d pop into one of my buddies office’s to chat or have a meeting, they’d offer me a smoke, and I’d light one up. I would buy them a pack in gratitude from time to time.

Then I just started buying them on my own. That was 1987. I quit 3 years ago in 2009. Almost 30 years smoking. What a fucking waste.

I’d quit a few times – during my pregnancies. And once back in 2004 I’d quit for 9 whole months. I was over the hump and home free. But then I went to take pictures of the Walton’s Museum in Schuyler, VA. A guy that ran the gift shop smoked and we got to talking. He offered me one – that casual shake of the pack where one of those slender, white beauties pops it’s little head up – and I took it.

I bought a pack on the way home.

It was then I learned that once I quit I cannot, CANNOT, have another. One puff is all it takes for the nicotine to take control.

And how did I do it? The patch. I bought one pack of the name brand Nicoderm. After 2 weeks, I switched to generics, and by 6 weeks I was off the patch all together. I am not sure what made it stick this time. I had tried the patch consistently since they started making them, and they started making them waaaaaay long ago. But something clicked this time. Maybe I got tired of hearing  my husband and kids whine at me to stop. Maybe I saw that the price of a pack was going to jump to over $5. I was tired of wasting my money and being the outcast.

I made it a game. Let’s see if I can make it one day. Ok, now let’s see if I can make through two. Then a week. Then a month. Then is was easy. My family was so happy, and I was too.

I loved smoking. I loved that 2 minutes of solitude I got hanging out on my back porch. When I got the urge after quitting, I would go out and hang over the porch railing and suck in some deep breaths. It helped a lot.

And here I am three years later. I’ve not had one cigarette. Not one. I wonder if I’ll go my entire life without inhaling a Parliament Light again. Who knows. But for now, I am one smoke-free Slovak.