From the June 2014 magazine.

Running Wild

How a simple prayer under an old oak tree ended years of fancy drinks and handcuffs

Invariably, when we share about surrender, I think about my personal surrender from alcohol, not my surrender to alcohol. At my morning meeting, when our speaker shared about visiting Cuba in her early days of sobriety, I was reminded of my mid-20s when I spent two-and-a-half years in Puerto Rico. My drink of choice then was the Cuba libre, which was made in a 16-ounce glass, half-full of Puerto Rican rum and half-full of cola. After two of these, sitting out in El Yunque rain forest strumming my old guitar, I was free indeed—wasted away in Cuba libre-ville!

During those years in Puerto Rico, the sailors at Roosevelt Roads naval base loved me. On a Friday or Saturday night I would careen down the narrow, mountainous roads in my tiny 1970 automobile, with a driver’s seat that wasn’t bolted to the floor, to pick up three or four sailors for an all-night bar-hopping melee in Old San Juan. The sailors looked forward to my visits because they didn’t have to be on the midnight military bus that carried the less intoxicated sailors back to base after a night of drinking. In the early 1980s the bars didn’t close, and from the time we left the base to the time we got back, neither did we. No wonder nearly all my drinking buddies were in treatment or on restricted lockdown.

-- Ed L.

Wrightwood, California

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