I’m on a train on my way to Philadelphia for my 25th college reunion. I can’t even fathom the concept of having graduated 25 years ago. I just don’t feel that old. While I’m very excited to see old friends on my former stomping grounds, I have a bundle of nerves wrapped up in my stomach. But I’ve already got one huge God-wink to embrace and eagerly anticipate more.
I’m going to see my old roommate and best friend whom I haven’t seen or talked to in 20 years. We had a very stupid falling out a few years after we graduated and never spoke again. I barely remember the conversation, as I was well into my first, if not second, bottle of wine while we spoke on the phone. Many times over the years, I thought of what it would be like if I ever saw her again. What would I say? What would she say? Would she still be upset with me? She was like a sister and we did everything together. I became part of her family and traveled with them. She and I went cross-country when we graduated from college and enjoyed numerous adventures together. Memories that will never be forgotten, despite what happened.
I thought of her often over two decades, but had no idea where she was or what she ended up doing. Enter the age of social media and the opportunity to track anyone down quite easily. I tried a few times to find her and eventually came up with a phone number on the Internet, but chickened out on getting in touch with her. Several months ago, what popped up on my Facebook page but a friend request from her. I took a deep breath and clicked “confirm.” We started sending messages back and forth via Facebook. Then moved on to emails. Then texts. Neither one of us held a grudge or mentioned what happened, but rather moved on and picked up the friendship pretty much where it left off.
Here’s the God-wink: I told her that I was sober now and had stopped drinking almost 4 years ago. Her response? “Welcome to the club.” She had 13 years of sobriety under her belt. As much as I am looking forward to the reunion this weekend, I can also see it as a HUGE threat to my sobriety. There was a whole lot of drinking in college. On every corner, a bar that I used to frequent, a fraternity house where kegs of beer flowed, a friend’s dorm room where we partied. It’s pretty much a miracle I graduated on time with a degree.
There is a big dinner/party tonight for our class and with the tangle of nerves in my stomach at the thought of walking into the twilight zone, I’m comforted by the thought of going with my sober friend. In the past, a situation like that would scream “get a drink” to me. I would orchestrate my plan for immediately heading straight to the nearest bar for a large pour of liquid courage. This would be a really tough weekend if my friend were still drinking. It would be way too tempting for me to resort to old, alcoholic behavior and go back to partying like the old days. People, places and things that are triggers are killers for alcoholics. I’ll have them all wrapped up in a nice bow for me this weekend.
But the old days are just that. These are the new days. I’m going back to a place in time and memory. I don’t have to go back to the same actions and behaviors.. People change and grow and over these last 4 years of sobriety, I’ve grown more than any other time in my life. I’m guessing that with 13 years of sobriety, my roommate has changed and grown quite a bit as well. As have many other classmates I’m sure.
I’ll also get to see my book displayed at the school bookstore along with those of other alumni authors. It feels very surreal to me. But I worked so hard with my awesome publishers and editor to get the book finished in time for this weekend. I never would have thought 25 years ago I’d return to college having written a book. I never would have thought 25 years ago that I’d be dealing with alcoholism. And I never would have thought just 4 short years ago, in the throes of a wretched disease, that I’d be walking onto my college campus again, with my head held high, a happy, proud, recovering alcoholic. Or with my long-lost roommate, back together again for new adventures and memories.
“An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend – or a meaningful day.” ~ Dalai Lama