There are multiple times in our lives when we are confronted with powerful choices: we can either continue to drive on the road we’ve been traveling, or we can branch off in a totally new direction. Experts call these moments intersection points and assign great significance to them. The importance of an actual crossroads has roots in folklore and mythology where it is thought to represent an opening between two worlds, most literally interpreted as the juncture between the one we’re currently living in and the one that is next for us. Therefore, if we stand in that exact intersection spot, we are able to see both our past and our future. Some darker interpretations tell us that we can see a whole lot more than that. If anyone out there reading is a fan of the series Supernatural, you may remember this concept being presented in its extreme form, otherwise known as the crossroads demon, summoned in the actual intersection point of two roads with the intention of brokering some sort of a deal with the devil. This idea had its origin in the thought that because the veil between worlds grows thinner at a crossroads point, it is easier for a demon to slip in and tantalize us with some sort of twisted offer. The most famous literary example of this type of bargaining can be found, of course, in the multiple retellings of the legend of Dr. Faustus. While I do NOT put any stock in the existence of crossroads demons, I will readily admit that because I was a huge fan of the Supernatural series, I do get a major case of the heebie jeebies when I drive through lonely intersections late at night. What I do believe in though is that there is a bit of bargaining that occurs within our own minds when we are faced with crossroads decisions that is related to what we will carry with us and what we will leave behind. This thought is especially relevant to me as I write this post.
The same experts who call these moments intersection points go on to say that the primary thing that stops us from moving forward in a new direction when offered that option is the fear of discomfort. This surprised me very much. Did anyone else think that the biggest issue would have been the fear of failure? I certainly did. If we think a bit more deeply, however, we quickly realize that the main reason why crossroads decisions are so difficult for us is that each option weighs out almost equally on the scale. We can see ourselves remaining in our current situation just as easily as we can see ourselves leaving it. Think of the classic crossroads intersection out in the middle of nowhere where both directions look exactly the same to us. That’s where we are. And yet, if we continue with this example, we know that we feel a difference when we look one way rather than the other, and this becomes the energy on which we must force ourselves to focus. With crossroads decisions, we often know, deep in our hearts, that the time has come to move in that new direction, rather than stay where we are, and this knowledge sparks the bargaining process. One of the best examples occurs when we are confronted with the decision to leave our present work circumstances. We know that we are ready, we can feel the excitement and relief, and we are crystal clear on all our reasons, until something lands with a thump on our left shoulder and begins whispering in our ear, “You really don’t have to leave… you can stay right where you are.” Suddenly, we begin telling ourselves that things can change if we simply adjust our perspective or shift our priorities. Suddenly, we begin asking ourselves how we ever thought we could leave this place and these people that we’ve grown to love so much? Where will we ever feel this comfortable and at home?
Those last two questions are the million dollar ones because just as we are aware that intersection points occur in our lives, we are equally cognizant of the people who stand at those crossroads with us and wait to learn what decision we will make. The universe has put us in the proverbial same place at the same time, and we are meant to travel together for a little while, or maybe longer, because we go to the same school, or live in the same neighborhood, or work for the same company. While these types of friendships certainly require effort, and we are definitely willing to give it, they are reinforced by an external structure that makes them feel effortless in so many ways. We need only to show up every day, or when we’re scheduled, and there we find our friend waiting for us to pick up right where we left off. The friendship grows as we share accomplishments and frustrations, gains and losses, and we begin to realize that we wish it could last forever, even as we become fearful at the same time that it won’t. When one of us makes the decision to exit from the circumstances that have bound us together, the other gets left behind, and there is sadness felt on both sides. This is the cost of crossroads decisions, but it is one we must pay in order to move our lives forward. The person who remains behind recognizes the gravity of the choice that has been made, understands the magnitude of the loss, and wants only the very best for this companion who has become such an important part of this particular time in their life. Despite our sadness, we recognize that sometimes we are meant to travel together effortlessly for only a short time, and what happens after that will require a structure that is internal rather than external and must be based on mutual regard rather than mutual experience, while at the same time accepting that all that may remain is the knowledge that we were meant to share this particular time in our life’s journey together as a gift found in between the crossroads.
For today’s cocktail, I wanted to create a fitting tribute to my wonderful friend Kari Forwood who makes her exit from Recklesstown Farm Distillery tomorrow night. She has always loved the cocktails that I’ve created that were made with gin, so I knew that it had to be my base, along with ginger liqueur as the secondary spirit. For the drink’s sour component, I chose both lime juice and a tiny amount of a smoked plum “shrub” that I created. I also added two dashes of our Hibiscus Lavender bitters that Kari always loved promoting so much. For the main flavor profile of the cocktail, I decided to go with a hibiscus tea simple syrup because it represents the idea of having incredible respect and admiration for another person, which definitely applies in this case. I’ve also always been drawn to the fact that hibiscus flowers only bloom for one day, serving to remind us that life is short and we’d better say what we need to say before that chance is taken away from us, so here it goes: I raise this glass to you Kari. I have appreciated you and all your tireless effort so very much. I have valued every shift we worked together at RFD and the laughter, tears, and great moments of conversation they brought me. It will never be the same without you, and I know that anyone who has spent any time at the distillery shares this sentiment. I will miss you terribly, but I wish you incredible happiness in your next endeavor. They are lucky to have you. Most of all, I want you to know how honored I am to have stood at this crossroads with you. You are my friend, and I am forever blessed to have shared this time in my life’s journey with you.
1.5 oz Recklesstown Farm Distillery gin
.75 oz Barrow’s Intense ginger liqueur
1.25 oz hibiscus tea simple*
.75 oz lime juice
1/8 oz smoked Umeboshi shrub**
2 dashes Crooked Row hibiscus lavender bitters
Long, long shake over ice.
Double strain into a cocktail coupe.
Garnish with a demon plum slice.
*Make a hibiscus tea from dried hibiscus flowers. Steep 15 minutes, then dissolve in an equal amount of sugar.
**Dissolve sugar into Umeboshi plum vinegar in a 2:1 ratio. Add one lapsang souchong teabag and steep for 10 minutes.