From the January 2005 magazine.

A 142-day Wonder

First, he discovered he had cancer. Then, he discovered he had hope.

At the age of sixteen, I was a bartender in Manhattan, and I stayed a bartender for the next twenty years, going from place to place, mostly getting fired for drinking on the job. I was like a kid in a candy store. After the last job, I bought a boat. One night, I remember sailing right into the sunset, drink in hand, staring at the horizon, and thinking it doesn't get any better than this. I was right.

After a few years, the money ran out and I was working in a flower shop. I'd sold my boat and a relationship had ended badly. One day, I came home to the apartment I'd lived in my whole life and there was a sheriff's notice on the door. I remember one morning, at 8:00 A.M., I was drinking, avoiding all the creditors calling me (the phone was about to be cut off anyway), and going through my life's belongings in boxes. I didn't know what had happened to me. Everyone around me--my family and friends--had been talking about my drinking being a problem for a while. I never understood what they were talking about. But sitting there, drinking at 8:00 A.M., with my life packed up in boxes, it suddenly came to me that I was in trouble. I remembered that my insurance card had phone numbers on the back for substance abuse, so I called and went to a detox for six days. That's when I first heard about Alcoholics Anonymous.

-- Frank B.

New York, New York

This is a preview. To view the full article, use the link below to begin a free 7-day trial!

Subscribe