My Grandmom Gert smoked Winston’s. I would sit outside with her and she would tell me stories about her childhood that would make me laugh and feel sad all at once. She was an expressive story teller; her eyes would widen, her hands would gesture, her laugh had a ripple effect. She could be crass, snarky, and brutal with her depiction of people who let her down.
I feel close to her ’til this day.
When I was (maybe) twenty years old she had been dead for a year and I can recall laying on the side of our pool with a pack of cigarettes I had purchased on my own. I chose Marlboro Lights; the brand my best friend was using before she finally quit. I was never a smoker, but felt the drive to be a part of whatever made the people I love do it. I lit it up and probably didn’t inhale properly.
I let the cigarette burn up quickly as it sat inbetween my fingers, half of my leg dangling in the pool. I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t feel my grandmom’s stories sweep over me and take away the loss. And I never smoked again.