I have an admission of sorts; a guilty pleasure if you will. I love the smell of cigarette smoke. It envelops me in its warm spicy scent, holding just enough hint of sweetness that it makes my nerves tingle all the way to my toes like the gentleness of a first kiss.
This may seem quite odd to those of you who know me. I have very strong adverse reactions to the smell of coffee (it makes me more nauseated than pregnancy does. And when I was pregnant even the smell of fake coffee made me want to curl in a ball and die.) Most assume that because of my religion or because of whatever other reasons they may assume about me that I would react similarly to cigarettes.
But I don’t. I think as I teen I thought I should react that way, and tried to, but I soon discovered that much like the smell of gasoline, the smell of smoke really didn’t bother me at all, and rarely did it ever truly make me cough. How do I know this? Well, I know people who smoke. Don’t you??
I am not a smoker. For a variety of reasons, religion being one of them. My grandfather died of complications from emphysema and lung cancer just before my first child was born. It was neither a pretty nor a fast way to go. He got kind of grumpy toward the end because he was in so much pain and partly because he missed grandma.
I miss her, too.
That may be why I am not bothered when an anonymous person at a bus stop lights up and exhales up-wind from me. In fact, when that happens I end up closing my eyes and drinking in the scents that remind me of my grandparents, letting them swirl around me as I take deep breaths. It’s almost as if they are standing there with me letting me know that I am not alone on this journey called life, and if I can just breathe deep enough, I can keep them with me forever. Sometimes I can even feel Grandma’s favorite Koala bear pressed up against my face.
I know there are plenty who will feel that this is gross, or unhealthy, or a violation of the common wisdom that second-hand smoke is dangerous. Yes, I know. And the beauty of this life is that we are all allowed different opinions and viewpoints. We are allowed choice. I for one am grateful that there are people in life who do not believe and live the way I do. Because sometimes when I’m sitting at a bus stop and feeling a little insecure or vulnerable, there’s some small miracle that occurs that allows me to commune with a higher power and long-dead loved ones. And I know that I am not alone, that I am not working for nothing, and that what I am doing means something.
And then, even better, to make friends with that anonymous person, to find out she’s just moved here from out of state, to help her find directions, to sit by her and help keep her kids entertained on the long bus-ride home. All because pleasant memories were triggered by the right scent at the right time. That was a most fulfilling end to a day that could have ended up much differently. I think that we humans here on this planet earth both help and hurt the people around us without ever knowing it half the time. Hopefully by trying to enjoy the small moments, I can enjoy the bigger moments along with them, and thus maybe do more help than hurt on my way.
-- I was going to have an awesome picture of smoke through trees that reminded me of how I felt, but I don't have permission to use it. So, go check out the pictures at WebEcoist and give them some love.