I had the most unexpected conversation about love this week. I was talking with a man, while doing laundry, who’d been married for 61 years. “We met in high school and it was love at first sight. She still amazes me every single day,” he said of his wife, “even with her white hair. She looks just like an angel.” And I believe him. I’ve seen them together. They make love seem limitless, without any of the boundaries that time, or age, or circumstances can create. Do the majority of us believe in this kind of love? I think not. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that a good many of us scoff at it and consider it to be impossible. I do not count myself among those that would make fun, or roll their eyes, or see only impossibilities. Does that surprise you? I’m guessing that it doesn’t, despite the fact that you’re very much aware of my practical nature, and that my feet are firmly planted on the ground, and that I can’t even have a decent fantasy without considering details like how did I get here, did I Uber or take the train, and how am I getting home? I’m a believer in true love, at first sight even, and most of all in the fashion of Viola de Lessup, my favorite character in Shakespeare in Love, who longs for love that is “like a riot in the heart.” You remember Viola; she was in my Valentine’s Day post.
While I’ve always believed in the kind of romantic love that can truly evoke such riotous feelings, I still placed certain boundaries on it. I saw falling in love as a finite process, like inflating a balloon, where you reached a specific point but could go no further. I think some of you may be with me on this, but some of you may not. Some of you know the same secret that the man in the laundry room knows. The only exception I’d ever experienced was in the way that I fell in love with my children. That was limitless, and still is. I see them all on almost a daily basis, and their presence never fails to move me, even if only for a split second. Sometimes I look at them from across a room, and I consider the miracle of them, that I carried them, and brought them into this world, and was their constant companion for so many years. It’s a bond that’s unlike any other and I’m not sure they know how much it continues to grow for me. And now I have the incredible chance to live it all over again in my relationship with my granddaughter, Nora, who fills my heart with more joy than I thought was possible. Those of you who are mothers and grandmothers know exactly what I mean.
So what is it then that’s different about romantic love that makes some of us see it as something that cannot remain as “a riot in the heart?” What makes us think that we cannot continue to fall in love with our person as times goes on, rather than arriving at some static level where the love remains, but there is nothing more we can learn, and nothing deeper we can feel? As human beings, we are limitless in our capacity to change and grow, and we are equally limitless in our ability to experience wonder and joy. We just have to allow our hearts to be open, and allow ourselves to be seen and to be vulnerable in much the same way that we did when our relationship was just beginning. We have to continue to share our hopes, our fears, our joys, and our stories into those quiet hours of the morning, when those words can intensify bonds that we already feel are as deep as they can be. I actually think that the answer can be found in the intensity that exists between us, in the connection, and in the pull. We have to protect it, and nurture it, and value it as our most prized possession, because if we don’t then we will never have even the most remote possibility of saying “she still amazes me every single day.” True love is as limitless as we are. It knows no boundaries other than the ones we create by putting up emotional walls, by losing sight of what is most important, and by forgetting to be grateful. So, yes, I believe in love, and in love at first sight, and in love that’s “like a riot in the heart,” and in love that runs infinitely deep and feels profoundly true. Finally.
Today’s cocktail is focused on intensity. I used Standard Wormwood Rye as my base spirit and deepened its flavor by rinsing the glass with absinthe, also made from wormwood, which is known for bringing quiet clarity. I added small, but equal, amounts of Suze and Bonal Gentian Quina, both made from gentian root, and both known for their ability to soothe and create peace. I finished the cocktail with two dashes of DRAM Palo Santo bitters, made from the bark of “holy wood,” and prized for its ability to grant us visions of what’s possible. This is a fairly simple riff on an Old-Fashioned, but the complexity of each of its ingredients brings so much dimension to the drink. Sip it slowly and think about who you love, how deeply you feel, and how amazed you are. Cheers everyone. Happy Friday!
Infinitely Deep and Profoundly True
Rinse an old-fashioned glass with the Absinthe and muddle the sugar cube. Add the remaining ingredients and one large cube and stir until chilled and blended. Express and garnish with a grapefruit peel. Enjoy!