I made the decision to quit smoking days before I boarded to boat for Uruguay to renew my tourist visa. A couple kilometers from shore, the smog that shrouds the city is a visible line. The city is a pint of Guiness, sky of foam, city of stout.
View of Buenos Aires from Rio de la Plata
In Buenos Aires it’s invisible. Above it’s blue, the eye not perceptive enough to pick up on the color of the tainted air so obvious from Rio de la Plata.
This is the last day of smoking for me. I’ve made up my mind to change a lifetime habit in a city where it would be easy to justify it. What difference could it possibly make to a set of lungs exposed daily to a smog so thick it obscures buildings in broad daylight?
Dissecting the impulses one by one: I congratulate myself for completing a task, I smoke. I finish dinner, I smoke. I go outside, I smoke. I’m frustrated, I just woke up, I need something to do with my hands, I smoke.
Is it a choice? In the end, if I develop lung cancer from my dependency on Buenos Aires, I might have to admit that it was worth it. The advantages to choosing this city would at least give me something to look back on fondly when compared to huddling outside on a freezing winter day among a stinking pack of exiled smokers or the emotionally bereft imagery of curled, yellow extinguished butts in a filthy ashtray.
Here, there’s a beauty to the small things and the details of this lung damaging environment that wrap me in nostalgia even as I walk through the streets. I miss it and want it and I’m still here.
Goodbye, cigarettes. I’ll miss you, but this is about priorities.