I want a cigarette so fuckin’ bad, I can taste it.
In the coffee shop, I stand at my post in the window, watching passers-by stroll down the avenue, little breaths of smoke trailing behind them. Their mouths, happy, little chimneys.
Camel. American Spirit. Marlboro. Kool. Newport. And, my old brand, Parliament. — The bodega across the street, with bright signs flashing, taunts me in the morning darkness.
But, I allow myself to be distracted by holiday joy. Inside our coffee-fueled-snow-palace-workshop, the scent of java wafts magically about as my coworkers pour the new, limited-time-lattés — Peppermint Mocha, Gingerbread, and Maple Spice — into tall, white paper cups. We stand at attention, turbo-caffeinated elves, under a cascade of twinkling lights and dangling crochet snowflakes.
From open to close, our soundtrack is Michael Bublé’s Holiday Pandora Station. “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!” he croons, as a man jogs by wearing shorts and hoodie. Yes, it’s 60 fucking degrees outside, and — if we’re being honest — it doesn’t really feel like Christmas. But, I’m trying here.
During my break, I want nothing more than to stand at the back door, sipping a plain-old-soy-latte, sucking down three glorious Parliaments in quick succession.
‘Tis the season! — And really, that’s the thing I try to remember. — It’s just seasonal stress. Holidays make hard things harder. And, I remind myself when I can think of nothing but nicotine’s sweet kiss — cravings are just a chemical warning. — Ease up. Relax. Breathe.
Some days, I think I may as well have a cigarette — because breathing isn’t easy either way. It’s hard to be patient, waiting on change. Placing one foot in front of the other. It’s slow. And, the holidays are a pine-scented reminder that time is passing far more quickly than I’d like. — I’m not sure I’m ready for 2016 just yet. Not sure that I want to concede to another disappointing year. — “Come on Sarah, it’s nothing a latté can’t fix,” my favorite coworker tells me, steaming soy milk with an elfish grin painted across her face.
As Michael Bublé, fondly known in the coffee shop as “The Bubés,” really leans in to the chorus of “Santa Clause Is Coming To Town”, I am reminded that — other than a nice, long smoke break — there’s not much I need this Christmas. I got my wish — I’m back home. And, I’ve got it pretty good here. Depressed, sure, a bit. But, I’m lucky. — And, I know it.
Things will fall into place. Somehow. Eventually. Hopefully.
In the meantime, I remind myself to be grateful. — To be a good girl.
This year, my list is short. All I want is my spark back.
So, go on Santa — light me up.