25 years ago at Thanksgiving dinner at our family friends’ house in a suburb of Detroit, I took my last drink of alcohol. I’m sure I had a glass of wine at least. More than one glass? A beer? That I don’t know. I was never picky. I loved all alcohol. If the occasion called for wine, that’s what I’d be drinking.
I remember driving north, probably on I-75, then I-94, to their house. I have no idea what suburb. Was it still Southfield where they lived or had they moved on? I remember the barren fields, the low winter sun, the flat landscape on the highway. Did we pass the huge tire on the side of the highway, did we pass one of the first super-flashy moving digitized billboards I’d ever seen in my life?
My mother lived in Farmington Hills, Michigan at the time. Paul and I would drive up on the weekends and visit her, stay in her ranch condo, rent about a dozen movies from the arty-farty video store a mile away, lock ourselves in the den and watch movies all weekend. Sometimes we would fight, inevitably we would have sex, sometimes we’d go out to eat, even if just for lunch, sometimes take a walk in the sterile “neighborhood” that was like all of the other hundreds of condo neighborhoods in the suburb I grew up in for a few years when I was still in elementary school. The condos and sprawl came later, after my family moved away to a suburb of Toledo.
I had skirted around AA for about a year, hanging out at Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings with another friend of mine from college. After the meetings, we’d go out and get drunk at one or two of my favorite townie bars in Kent.
When I finally went to my first AA meeting, after being invitied by a woman who I banquet waitressed with at a sprawling restaurant in Hudson, Ohio, I felt happy and at-home right away; not like I felt when I was around the dragged-down energy of the people in the ACoA meetings. The alcoholics were a happy, gregarious lot; the codependents were pissed off and low.
It only took me a month to know why I was so comfortable in the AA meetings. These were my people.
Last drink, Thanksgiving Day, November 1987.
And that’s all she wrote.