“I’m surprised we could find each other,” the young man said, laughing. I stared at him for a moment and then laughed, too: we both had large, bushy beards in our profile pics, and we had both recently shaved those beards off.
He climbed in and we started back towards the city.
I asked him the normal round of questions: how he was doing, if he was ready for the big storm, if he liked living in the city.
“Yeah, it’s good,” he said.
“How long have you been here?” I asked him.
“About nine months,” he said. He paused, then continued gingerly. “I’m staying in a sober house.”
“Really?” I said. “Good for you.”
He seemed to take heart at my encouragement.
“Yeah, I had to get away from my old city. It can pretty much give you whatever you want, addiction wise. There was just no way out of it.”
“It was brave of you to cut loose.”
“Yeah, I guess,” he said. “I’m doing good now. Got a good job and I’m signing a lease on an apartment this week.”
I told him of the addiction and recovery mass our church just had. It was a beautiful service. The pastor who was speaking that Saturday night stood up in front of the congregation and said, “Hello, my name is Randy, and I’m an alcoholic,” and the entire congregation replied, “Welcome, Randy.” I suppose some people expected it, but it caught me off guard, nearly brought me to tears, that little moment of acknowledgement, that little moment of acceptance. The pastor told us he had his last drink in 1989.
I told this all to the young man sitting in the back of my car. Things got silent for a moment. “That’s really cool,” he said. “I’d like to come to that sometime.”
We got to his house and I dropped him off. I gave him my card.
“Listen,” I said. “No pressure. But if you ever need anything, I hope you’ll let me know.”
“Thanks, man,” he said.
Then I almost drove away without remembering to let him get his groceries out of the back of the car, because that’s how I roll.