A week ago today, my friend woke up in a longterm rehab facility in the middle of nowhere, Georgia. The first thirty days, he’s not allowed visitors. Getting him there took some doing, and I’ve been anxious about whether or not the program is a good fit for him.
I got a letter Monday. Yeah, a real letter. For those of you under forty, a letter is a really long text message, handwritten on paper in a dead language known as cursive and delivered days later by a U.S. Postal Service carrier.
Here’s the first paragraph of his letter:
I hate this place! Please pick me up as soon as possible. It kills me to be here! The food is sh*t and last night I was beaten with phone books and somebody peed in my suitcase. This is hell!
My first thought was he could just suffer. The suitcase thing pushed me over the edge. I had my keys in hand and was ready to drive three hours to pick him up. I kept reading…
Kidding! I don’t think we could have found a better choice of facilities. This place is awesome!
Ain’t he a riot?
The rest of the four-page letter was mostly cheery, upbeat impressions of the place, the rules and regulations, and the other guys — all white, 18 to 38, and “country.” A hefty percentage are former military. Sounds like the perfect setup for a good gay porn flick. Glad to hear he’s making new friends.
The last page was a list of things he needed, including often humorous explanations. He needs Febreeze because men are smelly, and black ankle socks like the cool guys wear to replace the white ones he packed. Yes, he thanked me for all I did to get him there. The rest stays between us. Just know I was deeply moved by his words and thrilled to see him so upbeat and positive about where he was and needs to be.
I got another letter today. The guys all knew he was gay the moment he arrived. No, he’s not a big flamer. The retired gay couple who drove him down in their Prius gave him away. One by one, the guys have let him know his sexual preference isn’t an issue. In the end, they have more in common than not.
Rehab is hard. Fitting in with the rest of the group makes things a little easier. The tone and contents of his letters make clear, he’s committed to the program and the hard road ahead. So far, so good. I’ll keep you posted.