Confessions of a Juul Junkie
I’d never considered a future where a pod was out of reach. Moving to Barcelona changed that.
The nicotine is everywhere, and I am assailed on all sides. Hip Catalan separatists in jean cutoffs smoking their rollies, their tobacco laughter echoing up the cracked façades of this narrow Barcelona street and into my open window. The old lady in the apartment across the street from mine hanging up sopping clothes on the strung wires, a cigarette dangling from her lips, her morning routine occasionally interrupted when her body seizes and her rheumy coughs ring out. The construction workers grunting in my building’s hallway, the smoke from their cigarettes creeping under my door and rising in tantalizing curls.
I am biting my fingernails, one eye on the blood forming in my thumb’s crease, the other on the timer on my smartphone. I compulsively bounce my leg as three pieces of nicotine gum congeal into a tumored mass inside my mouth. I focus on my breathing. I recite a mantra. I stare at the laptop’s blank page and try to write.
The timer rings a jolly tune unbefitting of the occasion. Deliverance. I am Pavlov’s dog reaching for the all-too-easy-to-misplace obelisk charging on its all-too-easy-to-misplace USB charger. I raise the Juul to my lips and take in its sweet mango nectar and exhale. Relief comes in lightheaded waves. I congratulate myself for following my protocol of one Juul break per hour — a rarity nowadays, because I work from home and have nothing but my own sense of discipline to hold myself accountable.
But these are desperate times, and conservative measures are necessary. I am one pod away from running out of Juul in Barcelona — a city where everyone, it seems, smokes, and where selling Juul is outlawed because its high nicotine content (59 mg/ml, or 5 percent strength) exceeds limits set by the European Union (20 mg/ml, or 1.7 percent strength).
I am one pod away from running out of Juul in Barcelona — a city where everyone, it seems, smokes, and where selling Juul is outlawed.