It was a cold dark night and I looked up and down the street to make certain that nobody was watching as I entered that narrow doorway to a set of stairs and I walked up what seemed forever before I reached the second floor. A sign on the door said “AA Welcome.” I entered and a fellow at the back of the hall was standing by a big coffee urn and he said, “Hi there. Would you like a cup of coffee?” I said, “Sure” and I walked back and he said, “I’m Joe,” and I said “I’m Art. I’m supposed to meet a guy named Bill.” Joe said, “He should be along any minute. Your first visit?” “How did you know?” I asked. “Oh, you just look inquisitive I guess.” Joe handed me a cup of hot coffee and pointed to the table nearby. “Help yourself to the fixin’s.”
I could hear someone walking up that long flight of stairs and then the door opened. It was Bill. At least he fit the description Bill had given me over the phone. 5’7”, hair graying, 51. He walked back to where we were and held out his hand to me. “You must be Art.” “I’m Bill and Welcome! You look like you made it just fine since I talked with you on the phone. What do you know about A.A.?” “Not much,” I admitted. “I just came here to learn.”
We walked together to the front of the room and on the wall was a huge copy of a document titled The Twelve Steps. “Art, take a minute and just read the first few steps and see if they make any sense to you. I’m going for some coffee and I will be right back.”
I looked up at the sign. It read. The Twelve Steps of Alcohol Anonymous
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable. I nodded. Oh, I am still working and functioning but my life sure is a mess.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. I shrugged. Well I’d tried prayer but it didn’t work but I was sure ready for a change in my life.
- Made a decision to turn our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. Makes sense to me. I’m ready. Since I was sixteen years old I have been trying to learn how to drink like a man. Maybe I won’t have to learn how.
Bill returned and I told him that so far it made sense to me. More people were coming up the stairs now and he introduced me to them. They looked normal to me. About a dozen more people, two were women. I was the youngest person in the group. I was thirty one.
I guess what I learned from those folks and others along the way made sense. It wasn’t always easy. There were a lot more steps to AA and I walked up that two flights of steps regularly. And now, here it is, what… fifty five years later on February 13th and I’ve never taken another drink. Life is good.