Love From Dusk til Dawn
The room sits quietly waiting for the first group of the day to take it over. The final conversations of last night’s late AA meeting drifted off hours ago. A new day starts.
At 6:30 a.m., a beginners’ meeting gets the ball rolling. Being the first meeting of the day in a busy city means it gets the occasional late night soul who is struggling and looking for fellowship at first light. The room is set with chairs around the large table (far too many than will ever be filled, but we can hope).
Soon, the first of the Fellowship arrive and put out the AA signs. Members bring their own coffee for the first few meetings of the day. The coffee cart on the corner outside is just the thing. The cart owner remembers how we like our coffee like an experienced bartender, having it ready to go as he greets us…a security guard just finishing his shift, a couple of traders who work at desks in nearby financial houses, a prosecutor from the nearby courthouse, a chef, a few retirees who live nearby.
This is the core of the first AA group of the day, which welcomes new faces, people coming back or people who just need a good, sober start to the day.
It’s 7:30 a.m. when the next round of meetings start…more traders, a stay-at-home dad fresh from dropping his son off at the bus, a trio of women in their gym gear and a couple of construction workers from a nearby work site. The table is pushed to the side as members set the chairs in lines. The meeting population grows.
Tony takes his spot in the back against the wall, bringing all his belongings in a large duffel bag. Someone buys him a coffee and roll for his breakfast. He sits silently, listening to all the shares and nodding. He rarely speaks, but when he does it is from a place of honesty and love.
The 7:30 a.m. meeting type changes each day. Monday, Wednesday and Friday are Step, Big Book and beginners’ meetings respectively. Tuesday and Thursday are open for anyone to suggest or vote on a topic if no one will volunteer (please, Mike, don’t pick gratitude again!). At the break, we decide who will chair, who will greet, who will clean up for the next day. By 8:00 a.m., the traders are quietly slipping out to get to their desks before the market opens. After the meeting, the room is swept and reset for the next group of the day.
At 12:15 p.m., the room is turned back over to us, after a sister fellowship finishes with their 10:00 a.m. meeting.
The noon crew is the big one. All the chairs we can find are pulled into the room, placed back around the table and into the room. On many days, this AA meeting is standing room only. The speaker sits on one end of the table and the room is packed with people on lunch breaks, people who live nearby and late-sleeping tourists and other transients. The shares are shorter. We try to hear from as many as we can. People keep an eye on the clock and make a quiet exit to get back to work. Someone shares how they remember when the meeting was a few blocks away in the other room, the room without air conditioning, the dirtier room.
After the Serenity Prayer, the noon group stacks their stuff on their shelf in the shared cabinet and makes way for the next group. A different fellowship takes over the room for a couple of meetings. A few of the 12:15 p.m. people stick around for that group too.
Then, it’s 4:00 p.m., which brings a smaller group to the room. A few locals, a lone construction worker who left work early, someone looking for a meeting in that odd afternoon time. The group sits around the large table. The coffeepot comes out, the smell taking over the room for the rest of the evening. Big or small, the group still carries the AA message. It’s a quieter time; people share a little more intimately in a smaller group.
The room is reset again for a new group, another fellowship with a different purpose but with the same sense of dedication to the service of others.
At 7:00 p.m., the room is full again. Not as packed as the noon group, but a sizable AA group. Many come from work, their fleece vests giving them away. The room is louder and there is more laughter. A new pot of coffee is on, someone brought in cupcakes. A newcomer tries to sheepishly slip into the back of the room, but we are on him before he can sit. The fellowship rings through the room and many stick around for the last meeting of the night starting 30 minutes after this one ends.
By 10:30 p.m., the room is quiet. The chairs are moved back, the coffeepot is cleaned and put away. Each shelf of the cabinet holds a unique piece of each individual group. The last conversations of the evening have ended, and a small group is continuing the meeting over at the diner.
Tomorrow, we get to do it all over again.