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Trip to Tehachapi

A man remembers what it used to be like at the holidays

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of joining the small fellowship in Tehachapi, Calif., located midway between Wrightwood and Bakersfield, en route to pick up my brother in-law. I had never been to this meeting, but was welcomed as if they'd known me all their lives. I shared about the first 10 years of my 25-year marriage. Every Christmas we'd travel six hours north to Mariposa to celebrate. While there in 1987, 30 minutes before getting married, me and my best man shared a long draw from a bottle of sour mash whiskey, left over from the bachelor party the night before.

We were birds of a feather, me and my two brother in-laws, three alcoholic stooges. While 30 relatives would share a bottle-and-a-half of wine over the weekend, the three of us would head out onto the back roads, each with our individual bottle, puffing pot and celebrating the holidays like only good alcoholics can. This was usually in the context of driving into town to pick up a stick of butter or bag of flour, perhaps some eggnog or a holiday movie, always some little token thing that would get us out of the house and into the party. Back then I lived for those days of drinking and driving, but not as much as I'm now living for these sober days of meetings and laughing.

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