Here at Alpha 180, as sunny Texas slips into its short winter, I’m filled with nothing but gratitude for everything that’s happened this past year. Having this community, one where, for the first time, I get to share in others’ epiphanies, problems, and stresses, remains crucial in developing my sense of fulfillment and connection. And that just so happened to be exactly what I was missing in addiction. I believe that our lives are interconnected; particularly when it comes to recovery. That sense of connection is what keeps my heart full and my mind (mostly) sane living in a house full of nascent men in early recovery.
A few years ago, I came to Alpha 180 as a mildly insolent, egotistical teenager and as a young adult desperate for connection and recovery. I’ve been coming around the Clubhouse since 2018 and I’ve seen it change from year to year as I bounced in and out before finding long-term recovery. Living here now as a house manager, I get to watch the young men struggle, grow, learn, and prosper, and then watch them leave and embark on the next chapter of their life. Despite living in a community constantly in flux, one thing remains constant – an emphasis on the importance of connection. As a result, we don’t wither away when key community members move on, but instead morph and change into another beautiful iteration of what we are: a safe, socially challenging environment where young men, all caught up in the youthful turbulence of recovery, transform, connect, and come to terms with their own identity.
Over the past month or so, during winter break, I’ve been learning and mastering the beautiful art of making homemade artisan sourdough – much to the delight of the guys in my house, who wake up in the morning to the smell of freshly baked bread. What makes the process so interesting to me, and, not coincidentally, makes the bread so delicious, is the use of wild yeast and lactobacillus that is unique to the environment in which one is doing their cooking. Yeast and bacteria, being active, living things, need to eat. Every day, I take my yeast and bacteria from the jar in which it lives, discard about half of it, feed it, and watch it grow. As I repeat the process the bread gets more rich, flavorful – even funky. At Alpha, people come and go, but the energy at the core of it all stays the same; alive, growing, and constantly being fed. As each young man transitions on, they leave their own beautifully unique mark on the community, and all the while, the place just gets funkier.