There are days where I wish I smoked. Days where I’d like to just lean back in my seat at work, light one up and watch the smoke curl up towards the fluorescent lights on the unbroken expanse of white ceiling. Just stare at all those acres of tiles and lights and wonder about their mathematical predictability. Perhaps a combination of the biological nicotine boost and the social marker of disengagement that the clink of a lighter would give me would suffice. There’s something about the magical path that a fine curl of smoke produces; its like watching fish in an aquarium with the exception that you don’t feel sorry for smoke like you do for the fish.
Quiet introspection that’s embraced by a process both edifying and destroying me at the same time. Smoke. Maybe we both need it. I listened last night as my wife fought to quell the obsessive-compulsive behaviors of Bethany. She went from tired and frustrated to assertive and demanding; dwelled there for a brief moment and moved on to belligerent, condemning, and dangerous. It made my skin crawl to hear her scream words like this, words I didn’t even know she had in her vocabulary. She burst into tears, sobbing that she “just can’t do this anymore”. I did nothing. I didn’t move a muscle. Didn’t come to her aid, didn’t offer words of support, didn’t pray. Were I a smoker, I’d have lit one up at this juncture, leaned back and watched the smoke curl upwards.
I don’t know what to do either, hell – I’ve been in this same spot plenty of times myself. Yelled and threatened to do things that I knew I’d never do, just needed to let the words fly. Bethany hears none of the threats, they mean nothing to her anyways; in fact, she listens to the tone of voice and when you’re done ranting, she laughs. She won. You blinked first.
So many nights are spent holding her during seizures. So much time spent with drool running down your arms as she pathetically roots around her face with her finger, looking for some part of it that doesn’t feel weird. Perfect time to light up. Hold her hands while balancing a Camel between my lips. Later, during the manic sessions as she crashes around her room and I lay downstairs listening, late into the night – I could watch the glowing end in the dark. I could take that amber glow and write words in the air, imaginary messages to friends, asking them about their summer plans. I always liked the photo of Jackson Pollock working on a large canvass in his studio, paint bucket in one hand, brush drooling colors in the other hand, cigarette hanging on his lower lip. He was a brilliant idiot, as am I. A tired, brilliant, idiot.