People often ask me how I come up with ideas for cocktails, especially those that I create for my job at Recklesstown. I tell them honestly that I really don’t know the answer, and that I’ve allowed it to become a matter of intuition. Because I make that statement quite frequently, I’ve come to wonder exactly what it is that I’m talking about. Let me give you an example. The other night, my son Zachary texted me to ask if there was a way to make an elevated version of a Jack and Coke. I suggested that he use a better whiskey and then learned that I’d misunderstood the question. He wanted to know if we could make a fancier riff on a Jack and Coke that we could serve for his son Jack’s birthday dinner, which happens to be tonight. Ahhhh. Well sure. Let me think on it. And so I considered the idea of taking the cocktail apart and reassembling it in a new way by adding a few ingredients to a syrup I’d recently created for work, along with a citrus cordial and the Jack Daniels. The cocktail materialized in my mind in a relatively short period of time, yet I’m inclined to say that the steps I’ve just described were not a product of intuition. I think, to the contrary, that they are more related to the accelerated logical thinking that comes from doing something over and over again until it becomes a refined process. Still, it seems as though intuition has to be involved in some way, right? Otherwise, without tediously tasting the addition of every new ingredient, I’d never have been able to say with certainty that I thought the drink would work. And yet I knew, without a doubt, that it would. Is this because I’ve developed a certain level of confidence in what I do? Of course. It has become a matter of trust. The question is whether or not that’s the same as it being a matter of intuition.
Every year around this time I begin to feel a certain restlessness stirring in me. I’m ready for school to be over. That made a whole lot of sense when I was a mom of three young kids, and the close of the school year signified the end of homework, packing lunches, and driving everyone around to their various activities. There was even a certain logic to it when my kids were older and more free time meant more time together. I always did love being with them and still do. Maybe the answer is as simple as that. Or, since there are five teachers in my innermost circle, it’s quite possible that their sense of being ready for closure spills over onto me. Perhaps this is a universal thing that’s related to the fact that even if we don’t work in education, we certainly remember being in school, and longer days, warmer weather, and time outside trigger a kind of response in us. And yet, I think there is more. The other night I was looking through a book of poetry by Carl Adamshick (there will definitely be more about him at some point in this blog’s future) when the opening line of a poem called Emily caught my eye: “It is nice to be without answers at the end of summer.” I’ve turned these words over in my head all week and have come to the conclusion that the reason why they resonate with me so much has everything to do with the way I feel about summer, particularly these last two weeks of June. For some of us, summer begins with an invitation to change, improve, or evolve, which in turn leads to the question in late August that asks “How have you done so?”
One of the ways of looking at love, romantic or otherwise, that has always resonated with me the most is related to the concept of being a witness. Back in 2017, I wrote a post called Can I Get a Witness? in which I considered this idea in greater detail. I talked about the movie Shall We Dance? and quoted a line from Susan Sarandon’s character that is specifically about the reasons why we marry, but is easily transferable to understanding any deep commitment that we may have with another person. Beverly Clark maintains that what we are seeking from committed relationships is to find someone who will be a witness to our lives, someone who will say to us, “your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness.” We certainly seek these things from our life partners, or from our closest friends, but we can quickly see how these thoughts can also apply to our children, in the sense that we are the witness to their younger selves, and to our parents, who often need us to become their witness in their later years. Or it may simply be that we share a particularly intense time with a person or a group, during which we witness something together, and a deep bond forms as a result. As many of you who read me know, I can go down a bit of a rabbit hole with words and their meanings, and I found myself doing exactly that with the word witness. As it turns out, the term has multiple meanings, some of which are borrowed from the legal field, and while I truly love the Beverly Clark quote, it seems as though the type of witness we’re looking for is fairly specific when it comes to love.