Under the Orange Roof
It’s funny how they said my life would change so much.
I didn’t think I would be back here, where I used to drink, that’s for sure
and where I drank would still be in my life.
It started years ago come to think of it.
Like all stories, this has a beginning.
It starts really with my father.
My father was a cook. Had been a cook even before I was born.
He’s been cooking for so long that there’s not a time when I can’t remember when he wasn’t.
To me it seemed when I was little that my father cooked everywhere.
At work, at home, even the church when they needed someone.
My father was always there.
But one of the places stands out most in my mind, one of my favorite places my father took me to when I was young.
When we first pulled up I could see the blue sides of the building and get this – it had an orange roof.
To me it looked so funny like it should have clowns or something living inside of it.
I remember there was this sign over the top of the roof of this man reaching down to a small child.
It made me think of my father and me.
When we were inside my father and I walked through this dark and smoky room with people sitting and laughing.
“Dad?” I asked.
“Are these the clowns that live here?”
He looked down at me with a smile.
“No son.” He said.
He went on saying, “They aren’t clowns,
but I think some of them do live here most of the time.” And laughed!
He then brought me in the back where he cooked,
sat me up on this long bench, told me to stay right there and to be good.
“I’ll be right back.” He said.
He then gave me this chocolate lollipop.
It had the same man and child on it that I seen on the rooftop outside.
I was no different than most kids – once done with my treat,
my mind started to wander and the body wasn’t too far behind.
I went through the kitchen,
on by the ice cream and soda fountain,
to the room that was dark and to me full of clowns.
It was still dark inside.
Maybe they were sleeping I thought?
But how could that be.
It was sunny and warm outside.
Sometimes I could hear the clowns talking and laughing.
I was still standing there in the smoke – filled doorway when my father found me. Needless to say, he never brought me back there.
He said things to me like, “Not staying put.” “Could’ve of got lost.” or “Had I gone outside I’ve might have been hit by a car.”
But that made no sense to me.
All I wanted was to see the clowns again.
Little did I know that years later I’d be one of those clowns?
It seems to me that when I started drinking,
I drank everywhere I could.
But the one place that I seemed to make my home was the same place my father had brought me years ago.
I had found a place where people knew me and I them.
We told stories, laughed at bad jokes.
I even had a couple of beers with my father while my mother was at church.
My father would tell me about when he worked here and how much it had changed since then.
To me, it was just a place that I could go to, have a few drinks in peace.
Talk to some people, laugh when they laughed, and were sad when they were sad.
By then I couldn’t feel anything and I didn’t know why.
So I would order another drink.
Gone were the memories of my childhood.
It seemed there were times when I would not smile or laugh for days.
When I did, it was hollow and dry.
If I didn’t laugh, I’ve break down and cry.
I was so empty inside and I didn’t know why.
So I would order another drink.
It wasn’t long after that, that I would find recovery.
I didn’t know what else to do by then, but I knew in my heart,
that I’d had enough of living the way I was.
I started to go to meetings.
Even picked up my first 24-hour chip at this place, which is now my home group.
I made coffee and later handed out the same chips that I had picked up years before.
They said things like,
“Keep coming back.” And “Don’t drink, no matter what.”
But the things that I remember the most was,
“Change your playground.” And “Clean your house.” And “The person who walks in this door has to change.”
Well I have changed my playground.
My friends – which weren’t many by the end of my drinking and cleaned my house.
I found out that a meeting could start before a meeting and go on well after it in parking lots.
In friends cars going to and from a meeting.
Even at places where they serve coffee late at night.
It wasn’t long after I met my sponsor that he asked me out for coffee.
I said, “Sure, where?”
“Get in the car.” He said.
“We’ll go over there.
There will be other people from the meeting there too.”
As we pulled into the parking lot I started to laugh.
My sponsor looked at me and asked, “What’s so funny?”
“Here?” I asked.
“This is the place where we’re having coffee?”
“Sure is.” He said.
“Don’t tell me you’ve never been here before?”
“Oh no.” I said.
“I’ve been here many times, come to think of it.” And laughed again.
So here I sit with my new friends.
Not in the dark room of my childhood filled with smoke and clowns.
But near the soda fountains of my youth.
Telling stories of how it used to be.
How my life has changed so much.
And we laugh.
Here – Under the Orange Roof….