Two weeks ago my youngest son bought his first house, and in between spackling and painting and refinishing floors I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of home, and what it actually means. I’ve always associated it with a sense of comfort, security, certainty, and where I felt most like myself. For me, home is North on my compass, or the thing that grounds me and guides me as I make my way through life. I don’t consider this to be earth-shattering; I think that most of us probably look at home in a similar way. Is it a location or place then for us, like the country we live in? The United States is where I live, as do many of the people who read this blog, and while the events of the last few years have definitely made us feel less comfortable and less secure, they’ve also acutely reminded us of the need for home to provide those elements. Narrowing things down from there, If our country feels like home, then certainly the city or town that we live in provides us with a sense of home as well. I know that mine does, for sure. I live in a small town with a main street just a half block away that has restaurants and shops, and places for coffee (ah the real definition of home), and access to the train that heads into Philadelphia. It’s nice to pop my head into a shop and have the owner recognize me. I’m going to throw one out to the parents who are reading and say that whatever school our children are in, especially if they’re young, most definitely feels like home. My children attended a small Catholic school that was certainly North on my compass for many years, and I still feel that way whenever I’m in the company of the people with whom I spent time there. They remain a great source of comfort and security for me. Can a job feel like home? Of course it can. I feel very much at home behind the bar at Recklesstown. I love our customers, and my co-workers, and I feel with certainly that I’m meant to be there, doing that kind of work. What about the actual house we live in? Absolutely, but circumstances can change the feeling. Our childhood home often feels vastly different after both our parents are gone, and the family home we’ve created as parents is certainly never quite the same without our children living in it.
As I was writing this, I realized that all the things I’ve mentioned have a common thread running between them. I think, for me, the sense of home has less to do with place or situation, and far more to do with people. Yes, I’m a citizen of the United States, and, yes, I may love the town I live in, but it has more to do with feeling solidarity with other people on a larger scale, and more to do with who I spend a few minutes talking to each day on a smaller one. When I think back to my children’s school, it was the people there that gave me such a sense of comfort and identity. We had each other’s backs, we watched out for one another’s kids. We formed bonds that will last forever. In my work, it’s the moment of connection that gives me that same feeling, whether it’s behind the bar laughing over something that’s funny, or with someone sitting at the bar who is need of conversation. I know that home will always be wherever my family is, no matter how much our individual situations may change or where our gathering place may be. I feel the same sense of comfort, security, and identity, whenever I walk into their houses, and they bring those same feelings to me whenever they set foot in mine. And, without a doubt, I think that anyone who is a mother will say that her children and grandchildren will always be North on her compass. It’s impossible not to feel that way. I think there are also moments or periods in life when a friend, or a co-worker, or even someone we meet randomly can offer us that grounding and guidance that we need. Shortly after my dad died, I had to turn his driver’s license into the DMV. He was a meticulous man, and his wallet was always a refection of that. He barely carried anything in it, other than his insurance cards, pictures of my kids, and one of me from 4th grade that must have been his favorite (who knew?) and his license. When I removed it, the wallet looked empty and different, and I started to cry. The woman looked at me with the greatest compassion I’ve ever seen in another person’s eyes and handed the license back to me. “Keep it,” she said. “No one will ever know the difference.” I didn’t even know who she was, and yet at that moment, she completely centered me, offered me great comfort, and made me feel like I was home, in the DMV of all places.
We all have these people in our lives, whether they are our significant others, our children, extended family, friends, co-workers, or the random stranger who shows us a great kindness. There are times when we feel that intense pull and we know with certainty that this person grounds us and guides us. They become North on our compass. It could be a really big moment in life when you feel it, or it could be a quiet one that you experience over a cup of coffee, when you least expect it. Recognize and savor that feeling because it is the very definition of home.
For today’s cocktail, I went with tequila as my base because I find it to be so eye-opening. It always brings great clarity, and the extra age on the Herradura Reposado made me feel as though it carried even more weight, which was appropriate for this post. Violets are the flowers that represent love and affection, especially when they are realized through our intuition, and lavender is associated with soothing, healing, and comfort. The lapsang souchong syrup gave the drink even more depth and paired beautifully with the tequila. I added in some lemon juice as my sour component, and some DRAM Apothecary bitters for balance. I loved the combination of the Giffard Violette with the darker spirit. I’ve always associated it more with things like gin or vodka, but in combination with the aged tequila it took on more seriousness. This is a cocktail with a number of layers that unfold as you drink it, giving you time to consider the question: Who is North on your compass?
North On My Compass
Long shake over ice. Double strain into a Nick & Nora glass and garnish with a lavender sprig placed in the direction of North. Enjoy!