Ada has quit smoking. It's strange to write it down. She had her last cigarette on Friday, which is also the last time she smoked with me.
Ada and I have smoked together for over twelve years, through undergraduate and Master’s degrees, and through most of our PhDs. We have smoked at bars and cafés and pubs and parties; between classes and during breaks at work; and in at least six different apartments in two different cities. We have smoked while drinking coffee and wine and after dinner; we have smoked with men and without them; we have smoked through a thousand conversations and in heavy silence.
Ada was one of the few people I know who smoked as much as I do. Not prissy just when I’m out drinking smoking; not socially but not at home smoking; not I don’t buy packs but can I bum one off you? smoking. No, this was real smoking, with coffee in the morning and before bed at night and at all points in between. Addiction, not affectation; regular, not menthol.
Until last Friday, we had this ritual in common. Now she watches me smoke from across the table and thinks of it as something she used to do.
Of course she had to quit, and of course I wish her well, and of course we will remain friends regardless. But here, now, I mourn the loss of a woman I smoked with. I will miss her.