I smoked my second cigarette on a dour July afternoon when I was 15.
When I was younger, in the years of Captain Planet and after-school specials, I had been stridently anti-smoking. I would hide my uncle and aunt’s cigarettes, or harangue them to quit, fruitlessly but to the best of my 10-year-old abilities. I smoked my first cigarette around that time, when I snuck into my uncle’s place and lit the longest butt in the ashtray just to be sure I didn’t like it. I didn’t—I don’t remember if I coughed, but I do remember the smoke from the rapidly shortening nub rising up into my eyes, and burning so strongly that I dropped the cigarette and almost spilled the ashtray.