A cold northwesterly wind blew across my yard sending my baseball cap flying and Maggie chasing after it. Thus sets the scene of me sitting in the backyard this morning in the sun with a cigar in my mouth as I watched Maggie play. Today brought back a flashback of my homeless days in vivid form. I could picture myself sitting by my campfire as such a cold wind blew as I drank beer and smoked cigarettes. The cold wind would make the fabric of my tent flap like wet laundry hanging on a clothesline on a briskly windy spring day. I shuddered as I thought of those cold days I spent over in God’s country in the woods. I would drink enough beer until I became numb to the elements and my surroundings and would eventually retire at dark fall to my warm down sleeping bag. I would hesitatingly awaken once again to a frozen landscape in the morning to build another fire and start another day of waiting for the sun to rise high enough in the sky to warm things up. That was one cold winter in 2004/2005. This winter pales in comparison.
The noon sun shone brightly as I climbed in my car and headed to the nearby town of Lagrange for an A.A. meeting I had found on the internet. I drove past sprawling West Point Lake as I traveled up the highway on into Georgia. Nice houses lined the side of the road and I wondered who lived there and what their lives were like. I have often found my own life to this point in time to be far removed from what would be considered normal. It would be interesting to compare my life to theirs.
I arrived in town and got a quick burger at Wendy’s along with an order of fries and a coke. I rarely eat fast food, but was in a hurry today and hungry for greasy burgers and salty, ketchup slathered fries. I then made my way over to the old Catholic Church that is now the local A.A. meeting hall. The parking lot was empty and it was only ten minutes away from when the meeting was supposed to start. I sat quietly in my car as the minutes ticked by until it was about time. I almost cranked up my car to head for home when four cars came pulling into the parking lot at the same time.
“Excuse me,” I said as a person walked by my car, “You wouldn’t happen to know if there is a meeting after lunch.”
“I am the chairperson for today,” She said. “Good to meet you. My name is Karen. Come on inside and have a seat.”
I followed her on inside to find beautiful woodwork adorning the great hall of the now defunct church. Stained glass windows with vibrant panes of colored glass splayed a myriad of rainbows across the floor from the winter sun. The room smelled of furniture polish and stale cigarette smoke. I took a quiet seat near the rear of the church as more people arrived. It was now five minutes past when the meeting was supposed to start.
“Most of these people work and take a lunch break to come. We wait for a few moments to start so everyone can arrive,” The chairperson told me.
Before long we had maybe thirty people in the room and the meeting began. Today we talked of being powerless over alcohol and turning our will and our lives over to a higher power as we understand him. I quietly sat and listened as many people spoke. I didn’t get much out of today’s message, but it felt good being with people who understood what I was going through and had been were I am at. I was also given a few more phone numbers that I will never call, but it is a comfort to have them in my wallet.
I drove on home feeling an inner peace these meetings seem to bring me. As I neared the Alabama state line, I came upon a railroad crossing just as the crossing gates were coming down and the warning lights started to flash. Soon, a train was roaring by in front of me rumbling down the tracks. I smiled again like a little kid and waved at the engineer as the locomotives passed. He waved back heartily with his arm hanging out the open window. My little world had come full circle today and it felt good.