It has been a somewhat challenging day, doing the rounds of mechanics in outer Playa del Carmen. Oh yeah, we bought a car; dreams of road trips around Mexico and beyond to Central America super-ceding our normally frugal lifestyle.
I like to think of it as an adventure in itself, from the hunt for a suitable second-hand SUV, to the process of registering the car as foreign tourists, down to accessing enough money from the ATMs intent on shutting down or running out of cash at a moment’s notice.
Now that the car is officially ours, it’s time to get the necessary service and overhaul. We’ve visited three spare parts shops, a key cutter, the Nissan dealer, two mechanics and a transmission guy, and most of it has gone smoothly until we come to end of our limited Spanish and walk away from the lean-to office of the transmission shop frustrated and confused.
Nissan sent us away, and now this guy is sending us back to Nissan, but we have no new information to give them to help identify the part we need.
“I’m going to buy a box of smokes,” Tyrhone says, somewhat defeated but with a hint of relief. I’m not surprised by this, and am somewhat guiltily relieved myself. It’s been four and a half months since he quit, and the desire to smoke hasn’t left him. It seems cruel that unlike most people who seem to be rid of the obsession after a few months, he is still in a psychological limbo of wanting to smoke and not wanting to.
I’ve supported him whole-heatedly, made suggestions, encouraged him and tried to espouse the virtues of being free from the addiction to cigarettes. Keeping in mind, I myself was partial to the odd cigarette or three, and although definitely not committed to the cause as much as he, have also let them go despite the desire occasionally returning.
So it’s not like I don’t get it, I do. I know how sublime a hand-rolled cigarette is with a coffee on a rainy day.
And we have discussed the dilemma to no-end, wondering if in fact the stress and dis-tress of quitting is even worth it. Four and a half-months in and it may as well be day one, despite the absence of nicotine in his system.
I’ve never put the guilt trip on him, and despite growing weary of conversations about smoking vs not smoking, I have always tried to empower him into making his own choice. I love him just the same whether he smokes or not, and am prouder of him for overcoming so much more in his life than just cigarettes. Events and circumstances that would have justified him being far less of the generous, kind and forgiving person he is. I shudder to think where a person of less internal strength would have ended up after experiencing some of the things he has.
They say nicotine withdrawal is worse than getting off heroin, and though I have no experience with the latter, I tend to believe it.
His mood lifts as he strides into the OXXO, the chain of convenience stores found on almost every corner in Playa del Carmen. His battle is coming to an end and defeat feels like victory as he selects a chilled can of Coke zero, his drink of choice, from the refrigerator.
I wonder if I will join him in a puff and put the last few months behind us in a haze of nicotine infused smoke. Like flipping a coin, our reality will be altered and life will be returned to its default setting. How much easier it would be!
No battle to be fought or war to be won, but a resolution made; a surrendering of arms appeasing both factions. Round 22 of Tyrhone vs cigarettes, where both teams get what they really want.
I select a yoghurt drink and realise the end is nigh. I’m neither encouraging nor judging, passively watching the scene unfold as if from a distance, when suddenly I look at that man I love who I would do anything for, and in a millisecond I see us at Walmart buying Champix, him having his last cigarette, then sitting on the bed in that first week, completely unable to do anything but eat and distract himself with TV. I see the hundreds of walks we’ve taken, the restaurants we have left immediately after eating, and the weeks he was unable to drink coffee for the association it had with smoking.
I look at him and compassion pools in my eyes in the form of fat, wet tears, which spill down my cheeks as I say, “but, it was so hard for you… I just… don’t want you to go through that again…” and I’m failing to choke back the emotion which has erupted (to my absolute surprise), from a place that can only be described as pure love for this man.
“Aw Ja-ane,” is all he says, half-lovingly, half-annoyed, no, definitely more annoyed, as he walks away, leaving me with two cans of drink in my hands. As I proceed to the counter with them, a stout, dark woman with kind eyes walks past me and gives me a warm, sympathetic smile. I must look so sad.
“Esto es todo?” the chubby young guy with well-combed hair asks me from behind the counter, checking this is all I want.
“Si, gracias,” I answer, sniffing.
We say nothing to each other on the drive home; I sip my yoghurt drink, enjoying the creamy sweetness of pineapple and coconut as the frosted can of coke zero sits unopened in the cup holder, no longer needed.
It doesn’t feel like a win, or a victory, and I know this is not the end of the saga.
The only thing I know is that five minutes ago, reality was on track to go one way, and just like that, love has given us one more day of hope that we can live the life we truly want, healthy and free from addiction.
Just one more day.