The heating in my house went out. My landlady told me she needs to order more oil. Instead of spending the day freezing at home and reading like I planned, I took the opportunity to visit a nearby city to get some errands done. And to search for my 30 day chip. I seriously drove two hours for this quest.
I spent two years of college and the last few years of my twenties living in this city. A lot of partying and drinking occurred here. I finished my errands at 4 pm and found an AA meeting that started at 5:30pm downtown. I spent 30 minutes looking for a parking spot. After I paid the meter, I realized I parked next to one of my favorite Belgian bars. I fell in love with hops there. This was gonna be a challenging evening.
I searched for a coffee shop. I wanted to avoid Starbucks because I prefer to do business with non-chain places and local companies. I am still trying to finish my Unwasted book. (I am not liking her relapse fantasies.) I found a place called Coffee Bar. It had coffee and alcohol. Lots of microbrews lined the walls. I got a latte, read some, and then walked to the meeting.
It was a nice meeting in a church side room. There was a speaker. I felt I related to her story a lot. But they did not offer chips at this meeting. Afterwards, I grabbed some dinner and search online for a later meeting.
I found one starting at 8:00 and then another at 8:30pm. I had to walk back to my car to put in more time in the meter. I wanted to put enough in to cover the 8:30pm meeting, just in case, but accidentally put in enough money only for an hour. I started to curse at the meter. It was the type that gives a ticket of your expiration time so I couldn’t just add more money. I pulled out my credit card and put enough money to cover parking until 9:27pm. Spent $11 on parking tonight. My hands were frozen because it was 25 F degrees out. “I better get a fucking chip tonight” I muttered. “And no parking ticket.”
In the 5 minutes it took me to walk to the 8:00 meeting, I started to get upset. I thought of the Belgian bar. “If I don’t get a chip, I am gonna go have one beer. Just one and I will drive home after. Just one. Fucking chip.” I started to cry. I was walking across a park and crying and freezing. The cold wind smacking my face was not helping the tears. “I don’t need to blog about this. One beer will warm me up also.”
I got to the meeting a few minutes early. I walked right to the coffee pot. Then I bitched at myself for forgetting my travel coffee mug. The man who was chairing the meeting walked to the coffee pot. I asked “do you give out chips at this meeting?” He said “no, we don’t. Are you looking for a chip meeting?” I said I was. He said “well we have coffee and big cups.” He smiled and tried to hand me a cup. I said “I hate Styrofoam.” I walked out.
I kept picturing a tall IPA in my hands. Fuck AA. Fuck their chips or not-giving-chips. One beer after 36 days won’t kill me. Maybe I can get a 24 hour chip tomorrow. If that 8:30 meeting doesn’t give out chips, I am getting a beer!
I walked through my old party neighborhood. The one bar had up the ropes for people to wait in line already. I think Wednesdays used to be 18 and over or karaoke night. I was kicked out of there a few times. Another bar I used to frequent has been closed down. My old afterhours club is still there but with a different name. I have the old name on a membership card hanging on my keychain still.
I get to the building and located the meeting. It was in a gay community center. I walked in the room full of men. I smiled thinking I might have more in common with them then I do with most of the women at my local meetings. But I worried they would notice I have not plucked my eyebrows in a long time.
I saw a box of chips. Is that my prize? Do I get it finally? I didn’t want to get my hopes up again. I didn’t want to ask and seem greedy. I would sit through this meeting.
They started and announced it was a beginner’s meeting. Anyone want a desire to stop drinking chip? No. They then explained the chip system. A grin started to appear on my face. Anyone have a month anniversary to celebrate? Me! Me! Me! I got up and FINALLY got my red 30 day sobriety chip! It felt so good.
We all introduced ourselves. I admitted I had 36 days. I was sitting next to a guy celebrating 9 years. I was the baby of the group. They asked all newcomers with less than a year to speak. I was the last newcomer to talk and I talked through more tears. I laughed while I cried and explained how I have been searching for this chip for the past week. I thanked them and was so grateful I did not go to that Belgian bar.
Walking past some of my old haunts helped fight off my beer thoughts. Would I have had a beer if I didn’t find a chip? I am not sure. I think I would have went to my car and cried it out. I would have been too embarrassed to ask for a beer with wet, sobbing eyes.
I titled this post “Pump It” because the song by the Black Eyed Peas was on my Google Play as I walked out of that center with the chip in my hand. I was beaming and happy and wanted to skip back to my car. I will think of that moment whenever I hear that song now. I will think of it as my sobriety song.
Mistake #30- The bar I walked by that is now closed down: I woke up on my sister’s couch one morning. I was out with some friends the night before or maybe alone? I did not remember a thing. My brother comes down the stairs and asked how was my head. Huh? Why was he here? He then tells me he got a phone call to come pick me up from that bar. I passed out and some girl called him from my phone. Thankfully it was a newish phone and his name begins with B so she found him soon. He said I cried the whole ride to our sister’s house. He thought it was hilarious. He has his own battles with alcohol but loved that the “perfect” sister is a drunk too.