From the January 2013 magazine.

January 2013: Welcome to Houston

In a lonely hotel on his 20th anniversary, an alcoholic gets on his laptop and finds some love

A few years ago, I found myself being transferred from Virginia to Houston, Texas. I had moved a couple of times in sobriety, and always found my new AA community warm and welcoming. Each time I had felt like a beginner in many ways: new phone numbers, new home group, and sometimes a new sponsor. Yet, there had always been that comfort and familiarity from day one, even in a new group, that so many of us have come to love. While meeting formats might have been a little different, the AA message was always clear. But none was clearer than the message I received one night while attending a meeting in Houston.

In April I found myself living out of a suitcase in a Houston hotel, working late hours, and catching a meeting here and there. But this night was different—it was my 20th AA birthday. A wave of gratitude came over me first thing in the morning, but by lunchtime I began missing my friends in all of my old home groups. I received a few phone calls throughout the day from friends in the Fellowship offering congratulations and warm wishes, but as good as they made me feel, they were constant reminders that I was in a new place, unsettled, with no friends nearby and no one with whom to celebrate this special birthday. I began to feel sorry for myself. That old feeling of uselessness and self-pity was beginning to well up in my belly.

-- Richard L.

Paramus, New Jersey

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