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Grapevine : June 2011
aa on the road Two short years later, at the age of 28, I was offered a job in Austra- lia. I leapt at this opportunity of a lifetime, but, a question nagged me: Could I go to Australia and not drink a beer? I had to trust that my AA foundation was solid enough, even when I was not surrounded by the comfortable and familiar. My first test of staying sober away from home had actually been when I was four months sober and traveled to nearby Toronto. I hadn’t succumbed to the allure of a beer, so I knew resisting that urge was possible. I had been sick that whole week, though, and was barely able to keep even ginger ale down, so not drinking a beer wasn’t an issue. Go- ing halfway around the world for an extended period of time, however, was a very different thing. Before making my decision, I was reminded that AA was everywhere. I was also given lots of useful advice, like bring the paperback Big Book in my carry- on luggage (and read it), have a list of meetings before I arrive, and be especially aware of HALT (don’t get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired). Someone reminded me of a phrase we’d read in the Grapevine: “These aren’t the people you got sober with, but they’re the ones that you’ ll stay sober with.” So, before even leaving the U.S., I had written to Central Services in Australia and requested a meeting list for the area where I’d be staying, along with some contact phone num- bers. Having been used to the thick booklet of Massachusetts meetings, I assumed that this short list they’d sent me represented only a sampling (possibly to save on postage costs) and that I would pick up a complete list at my first Australian meeting. As it turned out, the short list was the full list. Soon after my arrival, I called one of the contact numbers and found someone to pick me up and drive me to a meeting (it took a few weeks before I could muster up the nerve to drive on the other side of the road). The Australian meetings were conducted differently. The mes- sage, however, was the same. I grew to love the opening paragraphs of “How It Works,” especially when a new Australian friend told me that when insomnia hit, she’d recite the words in her head, her way of count- ing sheep. A question nagged me: Could I go to Australia and not drink a beer? I had to trust that my AA foundation was solid enough. aagrapevine.org 17 GRAPE_16-19.indd 17 4/21/11 4:06 PM