I took two trips in the summer of ’17. Both too close to the equator. The arid heat that asphyxiates you and the sickly sticky heat that glues your balls to your thighs. In Morocco is where I met her. We’d stuff her full of hashish and roast her down. Kick her to the curb when we were finished. In Morocco I was supposed to study, but I was obsessed with her. In Florida I when in rehab, and we’d meet outside Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Wherever we were she was always there to comfort us, it didn’t matter if you had 30 years or 30 days sober.
Her nickname was Nic. I knew her inside and out. And she knew me – she knew my lips when she kissed them and my lungs when she filled them. She was the one who I felt laying in bed pumping out chemicals from my pineal gland. The one who held my hand lovingly at work when I was frustrated, the one who woke me up with a cup of coffee, the one who consoled me after I fucked up a test. She was there when no one else was.
She had a lot of layers to her, and every few months I pulled them back to reveal a new face. She first came to me in the form of Marlboro reds. I’d rip her open and fill her with playdough balls of hash. We sat under constellations on the dunes of the Sahara. Then she came back to me in rehab. was passed around a lot. Never the same. Sometimes she’d show up to Cocaine Anonymous in an oversized band tee and doc martens as an American Spirit black. Other times she was a 30-year-old diner waitress still in her work clothes as a Pall Mall. Occasionally I’d find her on the side of the road, unnamed and half used. I’d still clean her up and give her what she needed.
We truly fell in love with her in college. Tucked away in a green shirt we’d go back to my room and I’d tear off her cellophane. She’d abuse me. She took the breath out of my lungs and I spent every paycheck on her. I’d miss her every moment she was beside me. Her noxious perfume pushed people away from me. But we had each other. She was a 20 pack of Class-A L&M menthols. Her touch was ice to my lips. But I broke it off with her. We’d still see other sometimes, when I was drunk and needed her at 3 AM.
These days she comes to me in a different form. I’m still embarrassed to bring her around the house, to have her meet my mom. My dad tells me to drop her. These days she comes dressed as an aquaberry juul. She’s cute and slim and I can take her into my place without anyone batting an eye. She’s a bit of a freak. We hang out in library bathrooms. She kisses me in every stairwell and elevator. She’s different, but she’s still there.
She has a new taste to her. Minty or Mango but I can’t tell what lipstick she’s using. She might have killed a few people out in bumfuck nowhere but I’m willing to look past it. She still drains my bank account. I can’t let her go. I love her with every bone in me. Maybe it’s just the chemical reactions, but I don’t believe that shit. I’m loyal to her. And she may fuck me up at every corner, but I’m still gonna kiss her goodnight and say good morning. I don’t give a shit if it ends up hurting me.
I love you, nicotine.