This week, our good friend, Claire Nelson, returns with a humorous and heartwarming account of seeking and finding an AA meeting during her recent travels.
In gratitude, harmony, and support,
Looks Are Deceiving
by Claire Nelson
Recently, I traveled to the East Coast to visit family. As I often do (to preserve my sanity when visiting family LOL), I scoped out local AA meetings.
I had attended a wonderful women’s group during a previous visit, but I could not find the day and time online. I vaguely remembered the location, an AA clubhouse nearby, so I drove around town until I found it.
The parking lot was empty. I maneuvered the family car into the only available patch of shade, then trekked across the hot asphalt to the front door of the club, dreaming of the moment I would turn the knob and step into air conditioning.
Fortunately, the meeting roster was posted outside. Rather than stand in the sun and study the schedule, I took a picture of it with my phone and turned to leave.
Just then, a sleek European sports car wheeled into the parking lot. A very handsome, well groomed man hopped out and asked, “May I help you?”
“I was just looking for the meeting schedule,” I replied.
“For AA?” he quizzed.
“Yes,” I affirmed.
After a brief pause, he smiled and said, “You don’t look like a drunk!”
I laughed out loud. Though I am typically shy and reserved, especially with strangers, I literally laughed out loud––and kept laughing.
He laughed, too, until finally I declared, “I am most definitely a drunk!”
We introduced ourselves, then chatted for a bit as I wilted in all that heat and humidity. He shared that he had picked up his one-year chip a few days earlier. I congratulated him and even gave him a sweaty hug.
“How much time do you have?” he wanted to know.
“By the grace of God, one day at a time, I am coming up on three decades,” I humbly stated.
“Well, you don’t look like a drunk,” he repeated.
He then opened the trunk of his shiny car and gave me a phone list for the club. “You can call any of us, any time day or night.”
We said our goodbyes, and though I was tempted to quip, “You don’t look like a drunk, either,” I held back. After all, what does a drunk look like, really?
I pondered that question for a while, in the cool comfort of the car and the grocery store.
At noon, I returned to the club for a “coed” meeting. The room was packed, so I grabbed a seat on the end of the back row.
From my vantage point, I observed the people in attendance: men and women of different ages, sizes, and ethnicities. Beyond the visible, I imagined their differences extended to economic status, gender identity, and political affiliation as well.
None of that matters, I thought to myself. In this moment, in this very room, this swath of humanity is gathered together in the name of recovery––that’s the only thing that matters.
And what a beautiful thing it is.
In the few minutes that remained before the meeting was called to order, I considered the question once more: What does a drunk look like, really?
The answer dawned…
Like me. Like the handsome, fancy-car guy in the parking lot. Like everyone in this meeting. Like everyone, everywhere.