Back to the Real World

Hawkeye Pete and Johnny Baker at Hawk & Dove on Capital Hill — a beatiful spring day in the middle of winter!

First day back to the real world, after another magical weekend at the place I reconnect with a soul that sometimes feels disconnected from the rest of me. Woodstock always manages to heal what ails me — even when I didn’t even realize I was ailing.

I started the day with my regular 7:00 a.m. morning meeting. On Mondays, we do a 10 minute meditation in the middle of the meeting. Today’s meeting was a good one. There were only about 10 or 11 there — the sharing was intense, and intimate. My kind of meeting.

My friend A. invited me over to the Oxford House across the street, where he lives, to go over some questions he had on the 4th Step. I just started sponsoring him a couple weeks ago. He reminds me so much of myself when I was first getting clean. He’s a good kid. Like me when I first got sober, he was on anti-depressant drugs, but didn’t like how they numbed his feelings, so he went off them — like I did.

He’s still battling depression, but hopefully, as he progresses through the steps, he’ll get clarity on whether or not he should return to taking the meds. Sometimes, those issues get cleared up as one clears up the wreakage of the past, through the step work. Other times, it’s a more physiological thing, and the meds are required if one is to maintain a depression-free existence.

Johnny (David) with Kristin — great couple, or what?

I drove into town (Washington, DC) to meet with a guy who’s living in the D.C. Shelter, and wants to experience the 12 Steps. I met him where he usually goes for breakfast, a food kitchen near 16th and K Streets, and we drove around in my car for 45 minutes, talking about surrender, spiritual beliefs, sanity, and decisions. He wants to give it a shot, and he reached out to me (another guy, not in the shelter but living on the streets, J., gave him my number. J. was a regular at our Friday night group in Georgetown, but is now on the streets, kind of by choice, but when he heard this guy’s story, he thought of me, and now I’m working with him. I’d love to see him find what he’s looking for, either through the steps or some other way. He’s a great guy — heart of gold.

After I dropped him back off, I made my way to Capital Hill for lunch with two of my favorite writers/world travelers/Cowbirders, Kristin and Johnny Baker (pictured above). I welcomed Johnny to the 50 & over club (he just joined last October — I’ve been in the club for 12+ years now). I don’t think I’ve mentioned what a beautiful day it was today. I was walking around in a T-Shirt most of the day.

View from my office window — that’s the Capital Dome and the Arts and Industries Building of the Smithsonian Institute, peaking above the top of the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery Building

I had to drop a couple of cases of water off at the building I work at, the Jamie Whitten Building, USDA, on the D.C. Mall at 12th & Independence. The closest parking spot I could find was three blocks away. Those cases of water got really heavy by the time I reached the front entrance to the South Building — only to find it locked!

I knew I didn’t have it in me to carry both cases all the way around to the back of the building — another block and a half away, the only open entrance on a holiday -so I left one with the sidewalk vendor, who didn’t mind, and carried the other one back there. The guard was very nice, and said I could have just parked in the building, and suggested I get my car to bring the other case around. I did that, and didn’t have any more heavy lifting to do. I got both cases into the building, in my car, then ran up to my office, several blocks away (inside — between the two building, South and Whitten, they take up two blocks in each direction), and got a cart to bring the cases up in. I promised to bring water for a function they’re having tomorrow.

Not from today, but just a gorgeous shot of the sun setting on the Potomac, with the Kennedy Center to the left, that my son, J.B. caught a few months ago.

While I was hauling the water up to my office, Andy called, trying to talk me out of posting a story I had drafted and sent to him to read and advise, before I hit publish, on Cowbird. It was telling Jonathan how I really felt about how he handled the end game at Cowbird.

It wasn’t nice, but it wasn’t nasty — it was just an honest report of how it felt to have never been given a fair chance to try to keep things going there, from someone who spent the last 4 years trying to keep it relevant, and to keep the community vital and active, despite the site’s many flaws and numerous breakdowns, especially in recent times. Andy convinced me to not hit publish, so I held off.

I’d also shared it with Ben — it was talking with Ben the other day that had really gotten me going, and wanting to say something before I left. Ben’s one of those people who just put me in touch with the truth whenever we talk — he gets me down to the reality of how I feel. There’s a few people in my life with the ability to do that, and Ben is one of them.

But, Andy talked me down. Sometimes, just writing it all out is enough — you don’t have to actually share those types of messages. I’m fairly certain it would have fallen on deaf ears, anyway. I just let it go. It’s all good. That’s done and over with. I’m not looking back. I’m so glad to be here, on Medium, and MeWe. I’m equally grateful to those of you who’ve blazed the trail from Cowbird to here, and begun to get things set up, here. This makes it a lot easier to leave all of that behind. It feels like a fresh start, in semi-familiar surroundings.

An Unsplash Shot of a city I am not sure which one — just liked it.

My last stop of the day was out in Reston, Virginia, at Le Madeleine’s, to meet with a few others who’ve agreed to lead a support group for federal workers struggling with the transition to the new administration in the government. It hasn’t been that difficult a transition for me, personally, so far, but one of our ministers had reached out to me to help with the workshop, and I’m glad to do what I can. We had a good meeting about how we plan to support those who might need it, and I made my way back home, after a full first day back to the real world.

Another Unsplash shot — love this one.

I got a well-deserved talking to by my significant other, who had expected me to spend a little more time at home on a day off, after having spent most of the previous week away, at Minneapolis and Connecticut. I listened and realized she was right. It was not very considerate of me to just go galavanting around on my first full day back. I explained that the day just kind of got away from me. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I had promised a lot of different people to be in a lot of different places, but hadn’t thought about the most important person in my life when I did all of it.

I’m still a work in progress. But, all in all, I had a fun, active day back from the retreat. Tomorrow, it’s back to work, for real.

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