Sunday Sundries … Riding the Rails

Trains Depression photo Alan FisherCourtesy: Trains of the 1930’s – Photograph Copyright Alan Fisher

The weather did get better. I am sure that thousands and more enjoyed the Grand Prix this afternoon. Montreal shone in all its glory for visitors from far and wide.

It was a full day today. I visited with a friend before the main event of this evening. The construction season is in full swing, not only on local roads and highways, but also, many Metro Stations are being upgraded. I had not visited the Queen Mary district in a while, and I was there today, and the station is under construction, they knocked down and entire block of old buildings and built in its place, a modern brick build housing a Subway and a Pharmaprix, with apartments upstairs. This is noteworthy, because when I first got sober, I spent the better part of two years in aftercare, at the Chabad Lifeline House which HAD been where the new building now sits.

I went from uptown, back to Westmount for the meeting. My guys and gals were waiting for me as I arrived. I was just a few minutes off – because the trains were running on longer wait schedules.

The summer season is in full swing, as I spoke about earlier.

We sat a full number and read a story that went all the way around the room, and then halfway into it again. That’s what you get when you are reading a 13 page story. The chair reminded us of the time constraint so that everyone could share, and we hit the mark, it was fabulous.

Our story, Riding the Rods, comes from Edition One of the Big Book. Which means, all these stories took place prior to the first edition being printed in 1939.

Our man, in this story, at age 14, knew how to get around, that did not include, “walking.” Our young person began to ride the rails from one town to the next. Never staying in one place too long, In the beginning it is exciting. The travel, the not knowing, the adventure.

People did not have much back in those days, as was referenced in our story. So going to find fortune and life someplace else was appealing to some. But we are talking about an early alcoholic. At first he did not go looking for the bottle, but by default, you know he is going to end up inside one sooner or later.

Beer to start, but not the way to get over a hangover the next morning, so it was bootleg hard liquor to the rescue.

Take a hobo alcoholic, toss in a woman and a couple of kids, and what do you get?

A man who will end up with a job for a bit, but not for long. A man who will leave very little for his wife and children and take to the rails to make money but find insanity in the bottle, only to return to where he started, not knowing how he got there, needing help and is committed.

The end could have been tragic, but we always get to the Strength portion of the three part trilogy, one alcoholic, speaking to another, sharing experience, strength and hope.

At the time of printing our man had accrued two years sober, and in those times, two years, was akin to a lifetime, when all they had were each other, sitting in some nondescript living room, 40 at a time, listening to someone tell their story.

Thank God we have what we have today. Because if it weren’t for those first 100 sober folks, we wouldn’t be here afforded what we have.

Gratitude week begins on the 10th of June …

I have a friend, in the rooms today, who jumped out of his seat tonight, as we read. He is the only man I know today, who rode the rails with the hobos and tramps. At first drinking to find something he thought he needed and did not have. All the way to the end, where drinking was not for the finding, but the escape from the insane alcoholic state of mind he was in.

You know its bad when drinking to find becomes drinking to escape …

Every time I read an old story, I muse on the fact that I lived my alcohol story backwards.

In my twenties, I jumped into the deep end of the pool, all alone, with no real direction or goal or anyone to help me get there, had I had someplace to get to in any case.

I did not know from responsibility.

The more I pounded the alcohol the worse it got. I did not have a train to hop, but I certainly drove myself from one city to another and another, trying to find something, I thought was certain, and today I can’t remember what it was I started looking for.

In every stop, I had menial work, I waited tables in Daytona Beach, I sold jewelry by the inch in a shopping mall for a while, I worked in a hole in the wall bar, for Jabba the Hut, which almost took me into prostitution. All the while drinking my way around the state of Florida.

I was the alcoholic tornado twisting through the lives of friends and family.

I made a number of crucial bad decisions. I hurt all the wrong people.

The first time I got sober, I made some serious amends, others I was not so forgiven at all. I had three strikes against me by this point in the timeline, so who would forgive a gay, hiv+, on his deathbed faggot of his sins ??? Not many people.

I lived the alcoholic hell backwards. I did not have much, but what I did have I lost. I worked my way back a little, only to loose again. In the end I perfected my drinking so that I would not loose again. Once again, I got things back, but tossed it away with silent resentment and secrets.

I lost everything I owned on that last trip. And almost my life.

This is the longest I have gone, staying in the same place, sober in my life.

You could say that my childhood would be the first long term sober period staying in one place for a very long period of time. It wasn’t. We moved three times. I started drinking in my teens, and it only got worse. So let’s say from 15 to 20, I was already active. I would admit that those first fifteen years were sober, but they sure were hit and miss, when it comes to good and bad.

The last almost 14 years have been insanely good. I’ve been sober a long few twenty four hours. We live a good life. We have everything we need. Rarely an angry word has been spoken in all those years, and I’ve worked to keep the insanity at a distance.

Many of my friends all agree, that with the coming of the summer season, and the races and festivals here in the city that,

“The alcohol really looks inviting.”

Another friend, said that she, the first time, wasn’t “in it to win it.” And it took a slip to get her to pay attention and to finally be In it to win it. I tend to agree. The same thing happened to me. I had bigger fish to fry the first time, so I wasn’t really in it to win it. I was trying to stay alive.

After my slip, I got another reprieve.

This time I was in it to win it, but even that thought took eleven years to percolate in my brain, before a man pointed this out to us at a Round Up a couple of years ago.

I am In it to Win it …

A drink might sound really good at times.

I don’t think I have another recovery in me.

The founders remind us just how much we stand to loose if we give up and throw in the towel.

Failure is NOT an option, neither is taking a drink.

More to come, stay tuned …