When I was still up home in Maryland, still living on my own, driving my own vehicle, hanging out with the guys, it was the beginning of the hot weather that year. I was still getting a lot of nice invitations to go to other guys’ places for an afternoon, or for an evening, to hang out. I was just one of the guys. A man among men. One evening I spent sitting out on the lawn of this one guy’s sister’s place, in the dark, sitting on lawn chairs, and I wasn’t the least bit lost or disoriented. Everything was right where it ought to be. We had some back-fin crab meat, and some lobster bisque the one guy had brought with him to the party. These program people really know how to party!
I had plenty of gas money, and plenty left over, to keep myself well enough fed; at least, the good Lord was meeting all of my needs at the time. I found I had a lot of friends in the program who needed rides to meetings. Since the days of the Mother’s Against Drunk Driver’s lobby in congress had gotten remarkably strong, the Police were sure to give the program plenty of people who had lost their driving privileges, who were required to attend our meetings of sobriety. I’m an old-timer in the program, and it was my lot to provide rides for some of the guys who wanted to go to meetings, but lived out in the country, far away from where there was any public transportation. It was guys like me who helped out the country bumpkins who needed to go to meetings of the program that made a difference out there.
I took some of the less fortunate guys to meetings sometimes, and took them home again, too. One time a couple of us went over to this one guy’s place after an early evening meeting, who had just gotten released recently, from what he called an unjust, long-term prison sentence. We had something to eat at his place, while we all sat around and talked, in the dark, because there weren’t any flood lights there in his sister’s back yard. It was a beautiful experience there, nonetheless. Our host was still a little touchy after having been on the inside for about ten years. Can’t hardly blame him for it. He was OK; not really dangerous or anything. He was just a little jumpy, and wanted to talk about what had happened to him. We let him talk.
It was fine with us that the guy felt like he could trust us. I had taken him home to his sister’s house, where he was staying, and he and the other guy who came there brought food to eat. He was only recently released from prison, but he was dedicated to his sobriety. That’s just the kind of guy I was particularly devoted to, back before I broke my hip, and could still drive a car. There was this other guy who had a little boy. The little boy was a sexually abused child, and I helped his father to see his son needed his help. The man told me about the incidents that had happened, and the woman who’d done the dirty deeds to his son. She was a fugitive by the time the cops arrived. She managed to figure out she was wrong, and took off somewhere.
The little boy’s father was a landlord, and liked to help out disadvantaged people as much as I did, but this particular woman used to make porno movies of her and her boyfriend, and she liked show the movies to that little boy when the boy’s father wasn’t looking. She thought it was all a joke. She really thought it was funny to show that sort of thing to a nine year old boy. That’s how the father found out. I helped the boy’s father understand that kind of behavior toward a little boy was child abuse. He took the boy to talk to the State Police, to report the incident to the authorities. The woman left the state, and could not be found, last I heard. That’s alright. She’s a Federal fugitive now. They’ll get her.
I called one of the other guys on the telephone one day, who happened to attend another meeting, and he invited me over to his place for a father’s day cook out. I told him I’m not really a father, but he said it didn’t matter. He was going to have some guests over, and I was welcome to come over for the cookout, if that’s what I wanted to do. So I piled into the car, and tooled right on over to his place, where I’d never been before. I thought I had the wrong place, once I’d found it, because it was such a ritzy place, but then I remembered he was the guy who drove a Corvette to meetings sometimes.
There were voices out back, and it was really hot weather. Sure enough, it was the right place, and the food and sodas flowed. Since we were all sober people, there wasn’t anything like alcoholic beverages on the premises. I knew I could trust that, because my buddy promised me over the phone. There was a lot of quality sobriety, right there at that affluent home, where the father of the day was cooking on his grill in the back yard. There were plenty of people there, even though I’d never met many of them before. He had his own father and his own son over, as a part of the cookout. He had a deck and a pool, and spent his time cooking sausages and burgers over the open coals in the hot sun.
I didn’t know anybody else there, but it didn’t really matter. There were some older ladies, and some of the younger ladies, too, but I really wasn’t there trying to make any time with anyone, I was just there to have some fun and get to know some new people. I did some interacting with many of the people there that day. The program is for people who want to stay sober, and I’m exceptionally comfortable with that sort of people around me. Many of them were devout Catholics, which I don’t know much about, having been a Methodist Preacher’s kid, myself, but it didn’t matter, since many of them were well aware of the fact that it was a sober cookout. There was one of the ladies who had been a nun for a long time, and she was somewhat interesting to talk to. The grandfather had been sober practically forever, and he was interesting too.
I think what I’m going to do next here at Powder Ridge, is go sit with the guys in the dining room, to just create the privilege of having a few of the men in this place to hang around with; to be a men among men again. It’s not that I’m gay. I’m nothing like gay, I just need the company of some other men, and I understand that’s what I’m missing. I can remember going over to one of the guy’s houses one day, after I stopped on the way to pick up some fresh cut corn on the cob at a roadside vendor. He and I sat out on his deck talking about God and the Bible, while he cooked up a couple of steaks and some Maryland shoe-peg corn on his grill. What I found in those circumstances was that I was open to the conversations and the discussions of the people around me.
That guy was a little different than some of the other independent Bible scholars I’ve talked to. He was an End of the World kind of Biblical scholar, and had a lot to say about his belief that we are in the Last Days right now. He was investing in precious gems and precious metals, with the idea that the paper currencies of the world are about to lose their value. There was this one writer he wanted me to read so badly he bought me the book, in hard cover, and after that, I fell away from everything, because I was getting really confused about how to take my medications. I ended up overdosing myself on my meds every evening, I guess it was, and would pass out while I was walking around inside my apartment. I just lost control, and needed help getting my medications and my food done by someone else.
I ended up going to a rehab, so that I could detox safely from my psych meds, while I did a little bit of light exercise. I know that some of the guys at the program thought I violated my sobriety, but I remained true to my commitment to my Higher Power about that. I’ve had all sorts of mind-boggling experiences since that time, but still never did find it necessary to take another drink of alcohol. The idea is, that one day, way back in 1983, I had an epiphany, and ever since then I’ve been unremittingly sober, with a will and a way. It’s uncanny that I don’t have any desire to drink alcohol any longer, at all. It’s like my Higher Power has just taken away my taste for the stuff. I’m convinced the stuff will only make me sick, and I don’t want to be sick.
I used to think I’d only be happy if I could finally get married, but the longer I live, the more I accept the idea that I was wrong about that. I’ve found that I’ve made it safely into my sixties, with more wonderful things happening to me than ever before. I’ve been settled into a lifestyle of living in assisted living down in the Tidewater Area of Southern Virginia, and have just been enjoying my new home, for about two years now. I can’t drive a car anymore, which puts a damper on how much I can do with others, but I’m determined to make a go of it where I find myself. I’ll be getting to more meetings of sobriety here, after the holidays go by. I’m enjoying my pleasant life.
I had finally gotten friendships going with some of the guys in the program, just about the time my personal life was about to come undone. I was just so encouraged and so content to live the life I had developed, before I accidentally overdosed on my psychiatric medications and disrupted all of my interactions with the fellas up home. The overdose was a thing that just happened accidentally, because I was just too confused. I needed some supervision with my meds, but then I broke my right hip, to make matters worse. That meant I can’t trust my right leg to drive a car safely anymore. A man in Carroll or Howard County in Maryland, without a car, was like a man without legs. I had no options to get together with anyone after I broke my hip, and all of a sudden I was restricted about going to any meetings or going around with anyone at all.
My liberty was canceled, because I couldn’t drive a car to get myself anywhere. I found myself in assisted living up home, but going to meetings of the program was not on the list of activities at assisted living, where I hobbled with a walker. That meant I couldn’t get to any meetings. I became thoroughly dependent on a walker to keep me from falling again, ever since my operation. Since I was unable to get to any meetings all of a sudden, some of the guys imagined the worst of me. I guess that’s just human nature, but there were only two things that happened to me. I got confused about how to take my meds and I fell down and broke my right hip. Both were debilitating. Those things terminated my activity in the program. I ended up without transportation in a big way, because all of the things I was doing with the other guys required that I have independent transportation.
My sister-in-law invited me to go to Ginger Beach to be closer to my brother, and I found myself uprooted and dropped in assisted living in the Deep South, with a place that has mostly geriatric women as residents, and very few older men. What I’ve found is that I only have friendships with a couple of the ladies at this point, but consider those two friendships to be very valuable to me. The one friend likes to read, and she encourages me to write. I got myself in a race with my reader, trying to write faster than she read. It was a fun game, which I eventually won. The other friend is a good listener, for whenever I need to talk. I tried sitting with the men, who are frankly not people I happen to be fond of, so it was an attempt that didn’t pan out. I’ll be going back to the program after the holidays, if Griff gets over his bronchitis by then.