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Grapevine : November 2011
not normally mix." As we boarded the boat I was struck with the thought, How does a drunk like me end up in a place like this? The opulence was stunning--- three levels, marble floors and col- umns, televisions everywhere, pri- vate staterooms with private baths and a crew to attend to our every need. It was enough to take the breath away from anyone, especially an alkie like me. That evening we all had a wonderful steak dinner cooked to perfection by Mike McG. on the upper deck. We all settled in to the upper salon and began to laugh and share stories of days gone by. It was sobriety at its very best. I decided to go out on the top deck and take in the beautiful sun- set that was unfolding in the Florida sky. I settled into a comfortable deck chair and just sat in wonder of the grace of God as it played out in the setting sun. The colors were like none I had seen before. Reds that marveled the rock formations of Utah, blues that had an infinite hue, and whimsical white clouds perfect- ly placed as if painted just for me. Behind me, the skies were dark and a warm tropical breeze ruffled the hairs on the back of my neck. And then I smelled it ... rain. In my experience, there are only two types of people who can really smell rain. One is a combat veteran and the other is someone who has spent time living on the streets---you know, homeless. I fall into the sec- ond category, having never served a day in the armed forces. As the strong musty smell of rain filled the air and overtook my senses, my mind drifted to one of those "days gone by" I mentioned earlier. I thought of a particular eve- ning when I was in the darkest grips of my alcoholism in Venice Beach, Calif. That same smell of rain was in the air, but the night was cold and the skies were black. I searched frantically for cover, just some sort of shelter from the night ahead. I fi- nally found a doorway of a building on Main Street. It was dark and hid- den from the eyes of the well-heeled patrons of the shops and eateries that made up this trendy portion of Venice Beach. I nestled in for the night with my back firmly placed upon the farthest two corners of my alcove. Nothing or no one could get me from behind, I thought. I had a I decided to go out on the top deck. ... Behind me, the skies were dark and a warm tropical breeze ruffled the hairs on the back of my neck. And then I smelled it ... rain. 40 November 2011