Today is a very special day for Amanda and me. One year ago, on this date, July 22, 2017, she and I said “I do” to each other. Our wedding took place outdoors at a spot in Tulsa known as the Center of the Universe.
It’s a very special place to us. On Friday nights from early April through late October, an outdoor Narcotics Anonymous meeting takes place there. I suggested that it would be a fitting place for us to exchange our vows. So, a year ago today, despite oppressive heat and humidity, an intimate group of family and friends gathered to celebrate with us.
The Center of the Universe represents hope to me. It is a place where we, as recovering addicts, have an opportunity to be seen by the general public. It’s located in the heart of Tulsa’s party scene. So, as we meet, a multitude of passerby get to see experience, strength, and hope in action.
The spot is on a bridge that has been closed to traffic. Now only open to pedestrians, it is not only popular among those enjoying Tulsa’s nightlife. It is also near other bridges that many of Tulsa’s homeless population call home.
Whether there for the nightlife, or there for shelter, many of these passerby share something in common. Many of them are looking for hope in a bottle, pill, pipe, or syringe.
It happens only occasionally, yet there have been times that a person happens upon that Friday night meeting, stays for a while, and finds real hope. For most of us, however, that meeting serves as a reminder of where we have been, and gives us hope that we don’t ever have to go back. We are reminded of the fact that we never have to use again.
So yes, it was a fitting place for a couple of recovering addicts to exchange vows. As we did, our small wedding party was joined by some curious sightseers. Another part of having a wedding outdoors in a public place… it’s a public event!
From there, we went to the spot where we had our first date. A local McAllister’s restaurant. That was the spot we chose for our wedding reception.
For those who know me, a reception at McAllister’s seems a bit too casual. A bit on the cheap side. I suppose it was. Yet, in my mind, it was the perfect spot. It was at that restaurant where, in the midst of the darkest days of my drug use, I found hope.
The night of our first date, Amanda met me there. We enjoyed each other’s company. I saw a spark in her that attracted me. She had something I desperately needed, serenity. She spoke of recovery, unaware of my need for it. Unaware of my own addiction, for even I didn’t yet know I was an addict.
After dinner, we walked outside, and she announced that she was off to a meeting of Narcotics Anonymous. Before I knew it, she was gone. I stood there in the parking lot wanting more. More time with this incredible person. More laughter. More serenity. More hope.
I knew then that if I was going to see her again, I should plan on attending a meeting with her. Something about the hope I experienced that night left me wanting more. I had no idea where it would lead.
Today, my life is full of hope. The life we share as a couple is full of hope. We experience it daily, regardless of circumstances.
Our first year of marriage has been tough. Consequences of our days of drug use still haunt us. Some of those consequences will stay with us for the rest of our days. However, we do not face them alone. We have each other. We have God. We have family. We have recovery.
We work hard to maintain the hope we have found. Not only do we work on ourselves as individuals through NA, but we also attend counseling, working on us as a couple.
I used to see counseling as something reserved for couples in crisis. Today I know better. Counseling is preventative medicine against crisis, improving the odds that we will have a marriage that is worth celebrating each and every July 22 that is to come.
Hope happens here. Love happens here. Grace happens here. Heartache happens here too. Life will always be full of struggles, but Amanda and I never have to face life’s struggles alone again.
The message of Narcotics Anonymous is that an addict, any addict, can stop using drugs, lose the desire to use, and find a new way to live. When I first entered the rooms of NA, I was seeking a new way to live. I didn’t know what it would look like, but I knew I wanted it.
I’m so grateful that the new way of life I discovered includes Amanda. We celebrate that new way of life today and every day.
Happy Anniversary Babe!
Have a remarkable day!