I am walking with Rosa. We have just returned from eating breakfast at Sarah Jay’s. It is a cool morning and I have on my warm and favorite fleece pullover. Rosa is wearing a navy blue toboggan and an olive green sweat shirt and sweat pants. Her long brown hair, streaked with grey, escapes in tufts from under that wool cap. She will occasionally reach up to brush the hair out of her face and to pull it back behind her ears. We both got two coffees to go and are slowly drinking them as we walk. The police station and fire station are passed on the way back to my house. The sun is peeking over the horizon and treetops casting its first rays of glorious warmth.
“I almost used last night,” Rosa tells me as we walk slowly.
I didn’t hear from Rosa yesterday and just knew something was wrong or bad had happened. I was glad when she called me this morning about going to get breakfast.
“You know you can call me anytime of the day or night,” I reply, scolding Rosa. “I am always there.”
“I know,” She says. “It was stupid. I called my old dealer, but chickened out at the last moment and hung up. Calling him brought back a rash of terrible memories of lonely nights smoking crack from my pipe. I didn’t want to go back to those terrible nights of using.”
Rosa scares me when she talks like that. I, too, walk that that thin line between sobriety and using so I understand. Just the other night, I stood in that all-night convenience store surveying the beer offerings. That green, cold and delicious six-pack of Heineken was calling my name. My favorite clerk watched nervously as I stood there knowing of my aversion to alcohol. I tend to be overly open and honest about my alcoholism.
“There is not a night that goes by that I don’t think of drinking,” I then told Rosa as I took the plastic lid off my to-go cup of coffee and took a drink.
“Do you think it will ever get easier?” she asks. “This just seems all too depressing.”
“Yeah, I think it gets easier every day,” I reply, trying to bolster my friend’s spirits. “I know it does for me.”
Rosa reaches out to hold my hand. Her hand is wonderfully warm from that hot cup of coffee she was holding. I think of our friendship and our closeness as I walk with my best friend. It is so nice to not walk alone and to have someone with me that understands. For a brief moment, my social anxieties are assuaged. I am not an overly religious man, but think Rosa was placed in my life for a purpose. We didn’t meet by accident.
“Can I just stay with you all day today?” She then asks me. “I don’t think I can bear being alone all day after last night.”
“I would welcome the company,” I reply, casting my social anxieties to the wind. “We will go get some lunch at noon and you can watch Court TV.”
I think of the human condition as we pass the carwash just mere minutes from my house. Our lives are such fleeting moments in the grand scheme of things, but what wonderful journeys they can be. I thanked my lucky stars for these moments such as today. I’ve known the deepest of sorrows and the greatest of joys. Today was a day of joy and I got to share it with one of the most special persons in my life. I was having one of those moments where the human condition was truly worth experiencing. And I was experiencing it without that old crutch of mine, alcohol. That truly is a miracle. The human condition…and what a wonderful condition it can be.