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Grapevine : August 2011
to his friend Jimmy and explained that this would be my first meeting. Jimmy immediately extended a hand and welcomed me warmly. I now had two friends and hadn't even entered the building. They said tonight was an anni- versary meeting, giving a brief expla- nation of what that was. We entered a gymnasium and I started for a seat near the back. My two companions immediately "guided" me right up to the front row. I tried explaining that I usually preferred a seat toward the back. Wayne told me that doing what I normally preferred to do was exactly what got me into trouble in the first place. I sat dead center in the front row at my very first AA meeting. Many people spoke that day. Some were nervous, some emotional, others were humorous and very much at ease, but they all had one thing in common: Every person who stood up in front of that room full of people was humble and grateful. I wished that I could fit in with these people. I knew there was work to be done but I had no idea where to start. My two new friends must have read my mind, because at the end of the meet- ing they gave me a schedule for the entire county and wrote their tele- phone numbers in it. I had taken the first step, they told me, but I should continue coming to meetings, even if all I did was listen. The telephone numbers, they explained, were for me tocallifIfeltthatIwasinneedofal- cohol or if I just wanted to talk. They also told me to get a copy of the Big Book and start reading it. The considerable age difference between myself and Wayne and Jim- my meant absolutely nothing. They were many years younger than I was, but they welcomed me as a contem- porary. There was no condescension or patronizing, they were simply genuine, good people who welcomed me into their ranks. Had I not run into Wayne and Jimmy on that day, I probably would have turned around, returning to my broken life. I have about three-and-a-half years sober now. I have not yet fixed my life to the degree I would like, but I have made a wonderful start. I am home where I belong, with the woman I love who is supportive of my AA life. One of the personal stories in the Big Book is written by someone who also discovered AA later in life. A sentence in that story hit me like a proverbial bolt out of the blue. The writer realized he could not go back and make a new beginning to his life. He could, with AA, make a new end- ing, which sounds good to me. John F. Holbrook, N.Y. I tossed the alcohol, bought some supper, and went to bed. aagrapevine.org 45