I placed and/or received phone calls from 15 different people yesterday. I did the uncool thing of not going to a meeting on the 4th of July. Instead, I glued my phone to my right ear and talked for a total of 4.5 hours. One of my friends had a birthday yesterday; two of my friends had anxiety; a few of my friends just went through the motions of another 24-hour period of sobriety. I woke up feeling like a million bucks on the 4th. Not a care in the world, even with massive clouds in the sky.
The electricity in the air yesterday most definitely could be attributed to the storm that loomed, threatening to shit all over the annual fireworks show in Colonial Heights. Alas, the storm came and went, just like the fireworks did. I felt an electrical current in the air as early as July 3rd, the day I actually did go to a meeting. July 3rd was the day that set off sparklers in me, not the 4th.
My most dear friend, whom I met at college, saw my last blog post and took that as a sign to come visit me all the way from DC. She high-tailed it in her ’92 Dodge after three plus hours of traffic and didn’t even wait to shut the door of her car before she ran up my front lawn to give me a barrel of a hug. It felt so good to see her, I could have cried. But I’m not really a cryer. That, my friends, will never change. Unless I win the lottery. Or I’m PMSing.
She is one of the most extraordinary humans I have ever met. She is a transgender female. I am pretty sure she is prettier than me. This was my first time seeing my incredible friend after she started transitioning. She and I have talked for hours about how our changes in life are so similar in that we have to constantly discard our fears. She makes me feel brave and beautiful. She is both of those things, and then some. We discovered over dinner at a Mexican restaurant that she is chemically more female than I am. She also flashed me her newish boobs and it was awesome. How did I get so lucky to have such an amazing person in my life? She is gorgeous. I want to be like her when (and if) I grow up.
I thought the coolest thing about her being here would be her being here. I was wrong. She asked if she could join me at an open AA meeting. I was thrilled because I often feel alone out here at meetings. What a gift to go with one of my best friends–a stunning transgender woman next to me, a tattooed Los Angeles beotch–to an AA meeting together. She came with me to Colonial Whites, an affectionate term for a city that doesn’t care too much for black people or for justice. Here I thought that people might somehow judge her and me. I was wrong. To make a long story short, I acted as a lightning rod for controversy, not her. No one misgendered her; she was only met with kindness and respect. Good on ya, Colonial Whites — I did not see that one coming. I also didn’t expect that the dude sitting directly across from me who refused to identify with his first name would have such racist things to say with black people SITTING IN THE ROOM. I thought AA was supposed to be above all of that. He launched into a boring monologue about the racial tension and what a victim he was for being subjected to all of this. He lamented having to take down his Confederate flag. He described the WHITE flag being the only thing he wanted to see. White, for surrender. What a prick.
I know I shouldn’t have, but I jumped in to share directly after him. I thanked my Higher Power out loud for the tradition of Principles Before Personalities. I described my gratitude for being a liberal in the South these days. I also mentioned that I am sober and I have the ovaries to be myself now. It just didn’t feel right to sit idly by while someone spewed racist shit. I’ve bitten my tongue my whole life living out here and that just doesn’t work for me anymore. “Nobody” got up and left during my share. Byyyyyyyyyye.
I know my ego played a role. I know we are there at those meetings to get better. I prayed for that man last night and this morning. I thanked my Higher Power during the fireworks show for such simple beauty. My takeaway from this weekend was that my friend came to me when I needed her. I am fortunate to be so close to a person I love so much. She did not bat an eyelash the entire time she was with me, even as I became more and more agitated. She has learned to let go of the shit that doesn’t serve her. I am just now learning to do that.
I have taken today to reflect on another holiday spent sober. I feel for the people in the July 3rd meeting because we were all on edge right before the holiday. It isn’t easy to sit around a barbeque while people drink their 40 ounces to freedom. It is much easier to say “fuck it” and down a beer you don’t even like, much less a glass (or 10) of Chardonnay. I have compassion for myself and for others who still feel a pull toward alcohol, even when the obsession has been removed. That is why we have a program. That is why there are other people in our lives to help us see clearly when we cannot see for ourselves. I woke up this morning without a hangover or the sting of regret. I know I am not alone in that.
Happy July Five.
Photo courtesy of espressoandcream.com