Smoking a Cigarette with a Morning Coffee

It is possible that the outward changes that were so distracting, the obvious racing heart, the baited waiting Christmas morning beckoning in every unmet wearer of a skirt, were accompanied by others, ones that weren’t so spectacular. Or maybe it’s just time and the way our minds break like old shoes to accomodate the flex and flow of the memories heaving across the crust of our brains like the brutal sublimating, freezing, and thawing creeping waters of a permafrost in spring that finally makes the indelible mark of memory so obvious to its bearer. Maybe there was no special new change in neurology then, when, unbidden, the prizes on offer in life were bigger and the falls from heights and climbs became steeper at or about age 13. Something happens, though. Our living ghosts start to haunt us. Our living pasts heave into view as animate scenes, not dioramas, and edge out the immediate at times, or chug right alongside.

We must grow eyes in the sides and backs of our minds, under our scalps and headbones. We begin to notice the past as alive and present and indelible, and all forward motion as a trend of variety in a massive stillness.

I quit smoking cigarettes two years ago. I loved the sharp-edged contours of the world when I took a drag in the morning with the cup of coffee I needed to jump my body into action after the cigarettes and the booze and the coffee and the reading and the classes and the writing I had taken too much of the day before. I loved the burn of the smoke in my lungs, I loved the little tobacco plant I had planted in my chest with all that smoke- the little vaprous tobacco plant that sat in my body yearning for me to give it a spectral, weightless, filmy body of smoke to call its own as long as my butt stayed lighted. I quit smoking two years ago, though the memory of that smoke and the coffee and the mornings then are present and occurring even now.

I loved to sit outside my window on the fire escape alone in the morning, smoking. With the weird strength of all memories crowding into my present, when I need it most, I still am.

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