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The World’s Longest String

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In the summer of 1979, I, along with three other compulsive overeaters, none of whom weighed less than 225 pounds (102 kg), jumped into my subcompact car (talk about a low-riding chassis!) and drove twelve hours from Durham, North Carolina. Our destination? New York City, home of the 1979 World Service Convention.

What do I remember? I remember the show on Friday night, “The Caring Ties,” a musical written by Rozanne S. about the founding of OA. I remember the “100-Pound Winners” panel and the fellow who had lost over 300 pounds (136 kg) and was maintaining a healthy body weight. I remember the roll-call of states and countries.

I remember realizing I was part of something much larger than my little Monday night meeting in Chapel Hill—that OA was vibrant and welcoming to anyone who wanted to participate. I loved every minute of it.

The next summer, I went to Miami. The summer after that, Seattle. Then, I experienced a painful relapse. I did not attend Las Vegas, Detroit, or Washington, D.C, but I did go to Anaheim, St. Louis, Boston (twice), Houston, Vancouver, New Orleans (twice), Chicago, Baltimore, San Francisco, Minneapolis, New York (again), Dallas, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Cleveland.

Why do I keep coming back? When was the last time you were in a room with more than a thousand compulsive eaters working or working toward a program of recovery? When was the last time you walked into a room and were hugged by people whom you’ve known for most of your life? When was the last time you were in a room with people who have been in OA longer than you have? Along with those important folks, when was the last time you sat down next to someone who had never been on an airplane, had come from far away to attend their first OA Convention, was scared to death, and you let them know that within a few hours they could very well find people who would change their life forever?

It happened to me. I didn’t know I could lose over 200 pounds (91 kg) until I heard someone share about losing over 300 (136 kg). My first husband was introduced to me by my sponsor at a World Service Convention. (Okay, that’s an extreme example!) I have many friends with whom I correspond or talk to often but who I only see at World Service Conventions.

At my home meetings, I’m often the person with the longest time-in program or the longest string of abstinent days. That has never been true at a World Service Convention. Please join us this August to experience the living embodiment of Rozanne’s Promise: “Together we can do what we could never do alone.”

— Karen

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