My feeling is that if you do not have idiosyncratic, witty and lovable sober friends in AA, your life is hardly worth living. Such a good time — making memories — arguing with ferocity and instant forgiveness – eating spicy seafood chowders and gulping iced water, hugs and promises to meet again on parting. I have always been drawn to difficult personalities of immense integrity who are passionate and greedy about good food. They abound in AA, my good fortune. To understand all is to forgive all.
And my neighbours came over in the evening and we sat out under a brilliant bisected moon and a sky shimmering with old stars. Talking about our memories of a country that no longer exists. Of course I had nightmares and insomnia to follow, but the pain is part of what makes my life now so worthwhile. When Hester, as I shall call her, talked about going up from Maputo to that once-prosperous little farming town across the border and seeing the empty looted shops, roofless houses, hacked-down trees, grass growing up through cracks in the pavement, the destitution and mass starvation I went white with sorrow. Afterwards I could not sleep, lay in the old agony for hours. A raw visceral anguish that will be with me until I die, that loosens my ties to life. But it is something that has shown me the underbelly of that love of place and kin, deepened my empathy with the homeless and exiles everywhere.
The lovers arrived today and that was also fun – Patsy and Renetta, shall we say? Not their real names. Contrary to my expectations, they ate and ate. If music be the food of love, play on. Plump and uxoriously happy women munching on grilled spicy chicken drumsticks and murmuring over cucumber raita and various salsas.The dogs spontaneously danced in the kitchen on their hind legs and came running up for pats and compliments. Bowls of ripe peaches and golden plums, plushy apricot-red persimmons. They left with great reluctance, wanting to move to the countryside right away.
How strange to think once I could not wait for people to leave or go out into the garden so that I could go quietly into a darkened room and pour myself a glass of anaesthetising vodka or gin. That inner self who only cared about seizing an opportunity to drink, to dull my edgy feelings, to escape into a world where nobody contradicted me, nobody disagreed with me, I did not have to care for anyone The Miller’s Song: I care for nobody, no, not I/And nobody cares for me. A world in which I was forever right and forever alone. How chilling, how unnatural. My sober reality largely coincides with the sober reality of others. A new world.