It’s been 30 years, one day at a time

It''s been a long, sometimes difficult but more often joyful three decades
The 30-year Alcoholics Anonymous Chip

Hello, my name id Doug and I am an alcoholic. As of today, June 6, 2024, I have been sober for exactly 30 years, one day at a time.

I took that first step on June 6. 1994, in a gathering of fellow travelers, in the basement of a Lutheran Church in Arlington, Virginia at my first meeting with Alcoholics Anonymous. It was my serious attempt to quit drinking after taking my first drink, a glass of moonshine, in 1962, at a motel on Virginia Rte. 9 just south of Floyd when I was 15 years old.

The glass contained shine from Cleophus Sowers , a premier moonshiner in the county and well known in Southwestern Virginia. That point of history was unknown at the time to a 15-year-old boy who needed the drink to calm down to deal with the attention of a 27-year-old teaching assistant to wanted to teach him about what women can do to please boys.

That drink was the first many others providig my her in what would about a six-month affair during my freshman year in high school. It was a memorable education and often had drinks duriong the day to boost my courage when it came ot dealing with girls.

I graduated from Floyd County High School at age 17 and went to work immediately at The Roanoke Times on Campbell Avenue in the Star City and the reporters would often drop by the bar of the Ponce de Leon Hotel across the street to unwind. As a reporter for the paper, I was never carded and drank beer with the crew and enjoyed the company of Piedmont Airline Stewardesses who would stay at the hotel when overnighting.

I was also invited to join a “private club” outside of Radford where m could store booze and enjoy mixed drinks before Virginia’s “liquor by the drink law” was passed and I had my first “purchased mix drink,” Johnny Walker scotch and soda. That lifestyle continued when I accepted a reporting job offer in the St. Louis area at The Telegraph in Alton, just up the river on the Illihois side of the Mississippi.

By that time, I was 21, had a Playboy Club membership, a charge card with the 905 Liquor Store chain and could visit the Budweiser Brewery in St. Louis and drink a lot of free beer.

Extra Strength Tylenol, I discovered, was good for hangovers.

In 1981, we moved to the National Capital Region of Washington, DC, where the government and politics lives on the cocktail party circuit and Alcoholics Anonymous had chapters in both the Pentagon and the Old Executive Office Building for hte White House.

I spent a lot of time on airplanes, often on international flights and found that drinking was the best way to pass the time. I remember a non-stopflight from Hong Kong to Washington where we had enough time to drink, sleep, wake up with hangover, have breakfast, then lunch with drinks and arrived buzzed.

That was when my drinking was out of control and several people, including my wife, had asked me to stop. Finally, a night out at a Capitol Hillb ended with me waking up in an airport hotel on the other side of the country with no idea how in the hell had it happened.

I didn’t have a ticket but had used my Amex card to check into the hotel. A call back to Amy brought cries “are you all right and where are you?”

I caught a non-stop flight to Washington Dulles, where Amy was waiting for me and said; “I’ve got someplace for you to go.” It was the church near our condo where an AA meeting was about to start.

That night, I met the man who would become my sponsor and started working on the first of the programs’ steps towards sobriety. That was on June 6, 1994, the 50th anniversary and it became my D-Day.

For several years, I would tell the AA meeting on my anniversary the story of my mysterious trip to San Francisco. I never knew how I got there but a fellow traveler at one the nights I told the story asked me: “Were people telling you it was time to get sober?:

“Yes,” I said, “but I wasn’t listening to them.”

“Then maybe you had an intervention someone who wanted you to listen,” he said.

I hadn’t thought about that. One of the people I drank with was a lobbyist with a pharmaceutical firm. He was retried and living in Hilton Head but we had kept in touch, so I called him.

“Tell me more about June 6, 1994,” I said.

He chuckled and replied: “So, I guess Amy told you about it.”

No she hadn’t but lied but I pretended she had.

“Amy was about two or three weeks away from leaving you and wanted to see if we could set up an intervention,” he said. “My boss was trying ot quit drinking and his company had helped him, so we set it up for you to drink so much that you passed out and then hauled you out to National Airport where their company jet took you and us to San Fransisco.”

“And I never woke up?”

“Your tried but we would give you more tequila and that would pult you back under,” he said. “Once we got there, we litterally cafrried you to the hotel and explained to the clerk what we were doing. Her unddrstoood and we left you there.”

It worked. When I tried to get information from the hotel, they played dumb and gave me a timetable with flights back to Washington. I drank coffee then and haven’t touched a drink since.

It was my wife’s love ad the support of incredible friends who saved my life on that time in 1994.

I remember to thank them every day and one day at a time.

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