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Friendship in Three Augusts

By Joris Soeding

“The feeling of having shared in a common peril is one element

in the powerful cement which binds us.” —Alcoholics Anonymous

August 19, 1996. New faces, uncertainty, and without a drop of liquor. I was seventeen and alive. The friends that I became acquainted with for the next three Augusts were quite a remarkable group of individuals. I attended five meetings per week. I befriended Meghan in October, Chris the following spring, and the circle grew. Most of us were trying to stay sober, others were not part of a twelve-step program. We spent countless hours at Lonestar Coffee Shop. Big band music, free refills, outside we would hacky sack, or if we were lucky, our friend Marcus played the guitar to us and passersby.

Other nights I hovered over homework with my coffee in a tall, handled glass. There were a lot of movies involved. At the movie theater next to Lonestar we ecstatically awaited Stars Wars: The Phantom Menace on opening night. The Blair Witch Project, Eyes Wide Shut, The Truman Show, and The X-Files: Fight the Future were also enjoyed together in that theater. Work, school, bowling, concerts, driving, billiards, plenty to remain occupied.

One weekend my parents were out of town. We were laughing, swimming. Suddenly two uniformed young men with flashlights appeared. Their beams swiveled onto the glass table. There were many opened Pepsi cans and a couple of ashtrays. They asked where the beer was, stunned. I told them that we don’t drink. Speechless. They told us to keep the noise down for our neighbors and drove off. We shared everything at our meetings, especially our favorites on Sunday and Tuesday evenings. We struggled, strayed, remained, survived, and didn’t. We were linked with a similarity, a goal. I knew at the time that I would never have another group of friends like that. Twenty-six years later and still sober, I have been right so far.

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