We went to the City today for a graduation - this is an event that we hold at our sister facility in the City where all the graduates of the program as well as the educational programs at the ranch and in the sister facility are celebrated.
It was nice to get off the ranch, and I looked forward to going to the city for a while - You don't really know what a place means to you until you are no longer there.
So, we sat through the ceremony - it was a little strange because the guys and girls in the program all wore caps and gowns and we even had a key note speaker.... Reverend So and So from The Christian Such and Such. Apparently he is a real rock star in the Christian therapy circle... whatever that is.
It was nice to be there and see everyone who had succeeded, but the highlite wasn't really the ceremony, or the success of the graduates, it was the city herself.
As we drove through I was reminded of so many things that were taking place there, or that had taken place there. One of the guys in our shuttle who had been homeless pointed out all the bridges he lives under as we drive closer to the ceremony - almost gleeful, like when you show someone the house you grew up in. He also commented on which freeway exits were best for making some money. I asked him how much money he could make in a day, he replied, "Brotha', if you need so much money you have to work all day, you should get a job." Its a little scary that this kind of logic made sense to me!
(Note: They can make $30 - $40 in an hour on a good ramp, with a nice smile, he said. Two good hours will buy him a bottle, something to eat, and a place to sleep. Yikes!)
The city was so alive, and I was struck by the speed everyone was going. It seemed like everyone was in such a rush to go no where in particular. I havent really left the ranch in some time, and it was like I had jumped into the Matrix or something!
Its funny, the guys on my shuttle who I am friends with, Lane, Brian, Marty, and the guy who cuts my hair, a guy I call Blue. We all sort of huddled together, went through the motions of being there, dutifully clapped for people we didnt know, and removed our hats when we prayed; and once the ceremony ended we all immediately went back to the shuttle van. Almost in a dash.
Everyone else from the ranch stayed after the ceremony, milled around a little, but we found our driver and insisted we needed to get back to the ranch for a number of 'work or therapy' related reasons.
We sat in the shuttle, fairly silent on the ride home and when we got back, we each came back to life and went to the mess hall to have lunch together (none of the rest of the ranch had arrived, they stayed in the City).
During the lunch, Lane said, "You guys are gonna laugh, but I couldn't wait to get back here, I couldn't wait to get out of that city."
And almost at once, we all laughed out loud because we ALL had been feeling the same thing. It was frightening almost. I cant explain it. I am not ready to spend time in the city where I lost myself just quite yet. I keep in touch with friends who keep me abreast on the drama that is still there, on all the false friendships I had, on the relationships I built based on partying and drinking - empty relationships that were sustainable only while I was drunk, or preparing to be drunk. Other than family and a handful of close friends, I am perfectly happy with not visiting.
I was, at one time, almost resentful about the limited access to home I have in the early stages of the rehab program, but its turning out to be a blessing.
The ranch is such a safe place, and, I mean it when I said, You don't really know what a place means to you until you are no longer there.
Its good to be home. Have a good weekend everyone.
Days sober: one month