”To have a problem in common is much like love and that kind of love was often the bread that we broke among us. And some of us survived and some of us didn’t, and it was sometimes a matter of what’s called luck.”Only one friend stopped by that first week after I was allowed to come home. Then again, Michael didn’t have very far to go: out his front door, turn left, walk a few steps, knock on mine. Bearing two cans of raspberry soda water and a bag of potato chips.
—Tennessee Williams, Memoirs
We sat on the porch and talked. Which is what you most want to do when you first go into recovery: talk and talk and talk, trying to sort out how the greatest thing in your life has suddenly became the worst. And how now you have to give it up, somehow.
It was October, 2005. I don’t remember anything we said. But I do remember, when we were done, Michael hugged me. He was much taller, a good four inches, and I got a face full of plaid flannel. Geez, I thought, not only do I have to give up booze, but now I gotta hug guys too?
We started going to meetings together. Sometimes walking to the church around the corner in the warm autumn evening. Sometimes he would pick me up in that big old Cadillac he inherited. An inverted echo of high school, but instead of a buddy with a car coming to get me so we could hang out and drink beer, we were two 40ish men on our way to sobriety meetings in the Northwest suburbs.
Meetings, meetings, meetings. I hated them. Michael liked them. He had a sponsor, and worked the 12 Steps, an eager advocate of How It Works.
Only it didn’t work. Not for him. Not long term. For some reason, sobriety didn’t stick with Michael the way it has stuck with me, so far. Who knows why? Genetics, luck, something else.
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