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The Angel

She sat in the back of the 7:30AM meeting.....mostly because she was always late. She loved coffee. She wore scarves and cowboy boots and clothes that didn’t match.....very well. She never talked ....but everyone knew who she was. Her eyes told you that she had a very old soul......but had a smile that was full of life..... and kindness.

 

But she didn’t know that I existed.

 

Over the course of a few weeks I systematically moved from my normal seat at the front side of the meeting room to the back row by the door where she usually sat. .....thus throwing off the entire balance of the meeting room.....this kind of irrational behavior ( not sitting in the exact same seat everyday) in the rooms is usually met with “ are you OK....have you been drinking?” I didn’t care......or provide reasons why.

 

She came in one morning at about 7:40.....I made eye contact, smiled oddly and gestured that the seat next to me was open ( the one I had my keys on for the previous 10 minutes) ......after scanning the room for any other available seat....she sat down..... apprehensively. She stared straight ahead or down.

 

I waited for a few minutes until the meeting was underway before I tried to speak to her. “ I like your skirt “ I mumbled non-committedly. She was in her own world and I’m pretty sure she didn’t hear anything I said. She opened her eyes widely.....like you do right before you say “what....I didn’t hear you?......except she just nodded and said “uh-huh”. What do you mean “uh....huh?” Do I say it again while I still have her attention? What if she thinks I said my name is Bert? Shit. Now I have to raise my hand and share so she knows my name is Joel....not Bert. She is going to wonder why I just told her my name is Bert? Damn it.

 

That’s the kind of conversion that the voices in my head had back then.........and yesterday.

 

A few weeks passed and I managed to trick her into sitting next to me a few more times.

During years six and seven, I was still going to two meetings a day.....the 7:30 AM before work......and the 5:45PM after work. The morning meeting helped with my sobriety.....and the afternoon meeting was more for fun. There was a group of us that sat on the wall on the left front at the 5:45PM meeting.....Tony, Angry Mike, Tall Jay, that Girl from out-patient services, a few others........and Meg.

 

Meg was an attorney by education, sober for a while......and a mother of two. She now worked at The Gap. Meg always sat around our group on the wall........but never on the wall with us. She laughed at all of our side jokes....but kept enough distance as to not get in any of the trouble we did. She was funny and strong and confident and a good mom.....and a little sad and a little tired.

 

One night during the 5:45 PM meeting my new friend from the 7:30AM meeting came in.....late as usual. After the meeting ended, I saw Meg talking with her........this was my in. By the time I approached them, they had stopped talking and Meg was headed back towards me. Meg mentioned that she and a friend were going to dinner and asked If I wanted to join them......sure I said. Then I asked her....begged her really..... to invite the girl from the 7:30AM meeting to go as well. She did.....and the girl said yes.

 

We all decided to meet at a popular nearby restaurant in 10 minutes. Meg and her friend never showed up.

 

This was great......the girl and I were now kind of on a date......except I didn’t ask her out......and she didn’t know it was a date......beyond that.....it was a lot like a date. Our first imaginary date.

 

After that, we began to talk a little more at the 7:30AM meeting and she would....on her own.....usually sit next to me. I asked her out a few times.....she always said no. Not I’m busy....or maybe some other time.....always just no.

 

At the time, my best friend and roommate was sober about three or four years and not dating anyone......so I tried to set the two of them up......she had no interest in him either.

 

Naturally, we assumed she was gay.

 

I eventually wore her down and she agreed to go out with me......and my roommate.....on a date. The three of us spent Valentines Day together in 2001.

 

That was the first night I kissed my wife......Michelle........not Brian.

 

Meg – Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for not showing up for dinner that night. Michelle and I think of you often and hold a special place in our hearts for you. RIP.

 

Michelle – Thank you for putting-up with the first three years of dating and break-ups. Thank you for the past 11+ years of marriage. Thanks for our children and being the mother you are. Thanks for the very funny joke you make once a year that makes me laugh so hard I cry.... Thank you for always buying more half & half before the carton runs out.....feeding the dogs.....driving to Savannah....remembering everything.....not telling me anything until 15 minutes before I need to know.....then reminding me 5 minutes later.....for laughing at my jokes.....for telling me that I can do anything .....and kind of meaning it.....for taking risks with me.....writing with me.....listening to me........for your unconditional love....for your touch.....for your heart.....and the million other reason why I owe my life to you. I love you..... the most.

 

Stay tuned…..or don't.

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