In my 20’s I lived in the north end of Boston in an apartment that I naively thought I could afford. A sweet older man named Joseph was my landlord and also owned the local pharmacy downstairs and his nephew the liquor store down the street. After a few months struggling to make rent I found a room in an apartment down the street for a third of the cost.
I packed my stuff up, left, and never paid Joseph that last month’s rent. Everyday I would walk by the liquor store and see his Nephew, and then the pharmacy and see Joseph. I had to cross the street to avoid any contact. Everyday.
It was a Friday before an AA meeting I ran each week in the North End, and it was time to make my amends to Joseph. I walked into the pharmacy and turned to the left and saw Joseph sitting at a table fixing a cassette tape. I took a deep breath and walked over.
“Hi Joseph, I don’t know if you remember me but my name is Rachael Greene and I am here to make an amends to you for not paying a month’s rent. I take responsibility for this and I want to give you this check which will take care of what I owe.”
He looked puzzled and I explained to him how I am sober and in a program of recovery which suggests that I right the wrongs in my past. I told him how I ran a meeting down the street every Friday and he smiled and said:
“Don’t ever give up. And don’t be a stranger.”
From that day on I never had to cross the street again in fear, and every now and then I’d pop in and say hi to Joseph. The following week after the amends he was waiting outside the pharmacy for me to say hi.
Doing the next right thing sets me free… free of fear, and free to be me.