“All-y, all-y in come free!”

The “overbite” building on 12th and Seventh

I had planned to exit the subway station here at 12th St. and walk south to the meeting on Perry Street. I had planned to pick up a coffee, go to the meeting, sit in one of the predictable metal folding chairs, and be anonymous. Sit and listen and perhaps laugh and listen and learn and be grateful, today. One day at a time.

Perhaps providentially, to use a word that was used surprisingly by a young blonde woman who looked too New York to speak so 19th century Presbyterian, I was not to be completely anonymous today, but rather to be asked to share my story, which in the parlance is called “qualifying.”

“Our speaker seems to be absent,” said a man named Michael to me before the meeting started. “Would you be willing to speak if he doesn’t show up?”

I’ve been out of the program for a long time, Michael.

“What better reason than that then to share your story!”

And so I did. For about 15 minutes. 

And then, during the section we call “a show of hands,” man after woman after woman after man shared their stories and while we were mostly older and sometimes younger and male and female and sometimes straight and sometimes gay and sometimes transgender, we all shared the one thing that brought us each to this morning’s cold folding chair, warmed after a few minutes, to make the room feel like it had its own hearth blazing there in the center. 

The feast is being prepared.

Everybody is welcome at the table.

“All-y, all-y in come free!”

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