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Ivyland by Hawkeye Pete Egan B.
 

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  • My dive heavily back into N.A. Service Work, in which I blew off the job with the Windows warehouse and lumber yard, began around the time of the first N.A. History Workshop/weekend, in the winter of 1982/83. I hosted it at our house in Ivyland, where so many events took place in those years. By then, that house had taken on mythical status among members throughout the fellowship. It’s where “the book” got finalized, and where so many conferences, addithons, and fundraisers had been held. It was big enough, with two full floors, bathrooms upstairs and down, a kitchen and living room on both floors, that it accommodated large crowds well, even though there were only three bedrooms. We had formed the Bucks County Area Service Committee of N.A. there, sitting in a large circle in the horse corral right out in front of the house. Addicts would flock to Ivyland from Northeast Philly and South Philly on weekends, and traveling N.A. members from all over the country would wind up there, as they passed through the area.

    It was also my refuge, my place where I dreamed my dreams, and hid away from the real world when reality closed in too much on those dreams. It’s where I created the newsletters that I poured myself into and mailed out to members all over the country, including some subscribers in prison who’d had a copy brought into them, and with whom I became pen pals with.

    I loved the place – but, I also hated it. It reflected me, who I was at that time in my life. That winter, it began to feel like a prison, as the reflection of those parts of me that still hadn’t reconciled themselves began to reveal themselves in sharp relief, there.
  • At the history workshop, we had a modest crowd, about a dozen to fifteen addicts coming and going, some of whom had an active interest in the history of the fellowship, while others were there to hide away from the world for a couple of days, as it served as a refuge for many, as it did for me. I had received enough input from members around the country that I felt like it was time to start assembling it, and figuring out a way forward for developing a structure to capture N.A.’s History, as it happened, so I’d called for the workshop.

    Then, we got the sudden word that a dear friend of ours, Billy G. from northen New Jersey, was dead. I had ridden back from the World Literature Conference in Warren, Ohio, with Billy the year before, lending him my very old copy of Emerson’s “Essays” that I’d picked it up in an antique shop in Connecticut years before. Billy had been instrumental in bringing N.A. to north Jersey and into New York City the year before. Now, he was gone. We all were overwhelmed with the news, and spent the weekend putting together a tribute copy of the Freedom Connection, instead of working on the history, like we’d planned. It seemed more immediate and urgent to honor the passing of a dear friend who’d been so instrumental to N.A.’s beginnings up that way.

    Billy Z. had been there, up from Maryland, and that was the weekend that he and I really bonded. We’d both been good friends of Billy G.s. He, too, was a writer. He was in a wheelchair, having been born with muscular distrophy – as a child, he had literally been the muscular distrophy poster child, and had grown up meeting and getting to know the likes of JFK and RFK, his father a reporter in the District. Billy Z. was one of the more fascinating characters I’ve come to know, and is still a good, close friend.
  • Whoever brought him up to Ivyland, had to leave on Saturday, and I agreed to get him back down to his place in Maryland. I’d just blown off another job, so I had time on my hands. We took the train back down, and I spent a few days with him at his place in Maryland, just outside of the DC beltway. It felt like a door opening to me. We hit it off so well, and he had a large house of his own down there, where he lived by himself. He invited me to move down there with him. I wasn’t ready to do that just yet, but it sounded very inviting. It could be a fresh start.

    There were so many things that felt like they were crashing in on me at that time. Now that I wasn’t working steadily at a decent paying job, bills were piling up, again. I was driving illegally, because I hadn’t renewed my registration or my license, and I was getting pulled over and issued tickets. The tickets began to accumulate, my debt to the state growing to hundreds of dollars, that I couldn’t afford to pay.

    I’d had a falling out with my housemate, Al, over a girl. While I had this long distance hope of a relationship with Vicky from Pittsburgh, that still hadn’t progressed past both of us being very attracted to each other when we were together, but neither willing to try to do anything more about it, since we were so far apart and had lives where we were.

    I’d met a girl at a meeting who I felt something with, and had confided in Al that I was hoping to take it beyond friendship. The next thing I knew, they were together, and I went a little crazy with rage and jealousy over the betrayal. It was the final straw, what I’d needed to break out of Ivyland, and move down south into Billy’s place.

    Just as in my active addiction, Norfolk had been the hell I needed to go through to deliver me from the fires of the heavy active addiction that almost killed me; going down to Billy’s was the hell that I needed to deliver myself from insanity, to eventually reach an unconditional surrender, and to finally find the elusive recovery.

    But first, I had to go through the hell part. Early on, I mistook it for heaven. I would learn that things are not always as they seem. It would be one of my hardest lessons.
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